This article is a part of our Q&A series in which we give detailed answers to our readers' questions. Have a question? Don't hesitate and send it to us to get a detailed answer!
Orthodontic treatment with braces is designed to align your teeth and improve your bite. After the braces are removed, some patients might notice that their teeth are not perfectly shaped or that the edges of some teeth are not even. In these cases, orthodontists might recommend a procedure known as teeth filing or interproximal reduction (IPR) to refine the shape and appearance of the teeth. This guide provides comprehensive information about this process.
What is Teeth Filing or Interproximal Reduction (IPR)?
Teeth filing, also known as interproximal reduction or enamel recontouring, is a procedure where an orthodontist removes a small amount of enamel from between the teeth or reshapes the edges of the teeth. This is done to create space, improve the fit of the teeth, or enhance the aesthetics of the smile after braces are removed.
Why Might Teeth Filing Be Necessary?
There are several reasons why an orthodontist might recommend teeth filing after braces:
- Resolving Mild Crowding: Creating a small amount of space can sometimes alleviate mild crowding without the need for extracting teeth.
- Improving Tooth Shape and Contour: Filing can be used to create more even or aesthetically pleasing tooth shapes.
- Finalizing Bite and Alignment: IPR may help in achieving a better fit and alignment of the teeth after braces.
The Teeth Filing Process
Teeth filing is generally done using a strip of sandpaper-like material, a dental bur, or a dental laser.
- Evaluation and Planning: The orthodontist evaluates your teeth and bite after the removal of braces and decides on the need for interproximal reduction.
- Removing Enamel: The orthodontist uses a specialized tool to remove a small amount of enamel between the teeth or to reshape the edges of the teeth.
- Polishing: The teeth are then polished to smooth out any rough surfaces created during the filing process.
The procedure is typically painless as only a small amount of enamel is removed. However, some patients might experience sensitivity during or after the procedure.
Potential Risks and Considerations
- Tooth Sensitivity: As the enamel is thinned, some patients may experience temporary sensitivity to hot or cold.
- Enamel Damage: There is a very slight risk of enamel damage, but this is rare when the procedure is done properly.
- Change in Tooth Color: Sometimes, teeth may appear slightly darker after IPR due to the reduced thickness of enamel.
After teeth filing, it’s essential to maintain good oral hygiene to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Because the enamel has been slightly reduced, avoiding highly acidic foods and drinks for a few days can be beneficial to prevent sensitivity.
Discussing Options with Your Orthodontist
It’s important to have an open discussion with your orthodontist regarding the need for teeth filing after braces. Ask about the benefits, risks, and any alternatives that might be available. Ensure that all your questions are answered to your satisfaction.
Teeth filing or interproximal reduction can be an effective procedure for putting the finishing touches on your new smile after braces. It’s generally safe and painless, but like any procedure, it’s important to understand the reasons for the treatment and to follow post-procedure care instructions. Communication with your orthodontist is key to making informed decisions regarding your oral health.
This Q&A series article is complete and was published on July 22, 2023, and last updated on July 22, 2023.