How Harmful Is Teeth Shaving? - Smile Dental Center

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two women taking a photoIn 2020, one do-it-yourself dental trend emerged on TikTok: Teeth shaving, in which a nail file or piece of sandpaper is used to shave down uneven teeth.

The trend is not exclusive to this rapidly growing social media platform. Similar DIY hacks have existed for years on YouTube and beauty blogs.

While teeth shaving is part of several dental procedures, trying it yourself can result in long-term damage that accelerates decay.

Why Is DIY Teeth Shaving a Bad Idea?

Teeth shaving removes part of the natural enamel. Yet unlike fingernails or skin, once the tooth enamel is gone, it won’t grow back.

Enamel acts as a hard, protective layer around the tooth’s pulp and nerves. Exposing these components can result in permanent pain until restorative dental work is done.

In a professional setting, certain procedures like crowns and veneers require a small amount of enamel to be removed for a closer, exact fit and the procedure is done in a controlled environment.

By contrast, DIY teeth shaving does not have this degree of control and precision. Despite teeth appearing more even on social media:

  • The results don’t last, especially if you grind your teeth at night
  • Shaving off too much enamel greatly accelerates tooth decay
  • You also risk developing tooth sensitivity, nerve inflammation and irritation
  • Correcting a DIY teeth shaving job will require restorative or cosmetic dentistry

Teeth Shaving Done at the Dentist

Outside of TikTok and YouTube hacks, teeth shaving can be its own procedure or a step involved in a restorative dental treatment that involves recontouring or reshaping the tooth’s exterior.

In the process, a small amount of enamel is removed to alter the exterior’s shape, prepare the tooth for a crown or veneers or, in some cases, accommodate braces. Medically, the procedure also goes by names like odontoplasty, enameloplasty and occlusal equilibration.

You may undergo teeth shaving for:

  • Cosmetic Reasons: A step for adding veneers but also a low-level, painless cosmetic dental procedure, teeth shaving can improve the appearance of a tooth that is misshapen, slightly chipped or has scalloped or jagged edges.
  • Medical Reasons: Patients with bite issues or jaw pain may be guided to a teeth shaving procedure to improve evenness. In certain instances, the procedure may be recommended for patients living with TMJ disorder to find some relief. Teeth shaving is also part of the preparation for adding a crown.

Types of Teeth Shaving Procedures

In this context, your dentist will remove part of the enamel for:

  • Occlusal Equilibration: Your dentist reshapes the cusps on your back teeth, used frequently for biting and chewing food. When these teeth don’t fit well together, either through uneven lengths or surfaces, a patient may experience a high degree of wear, painful muscle spasms or TMJ. Teeth shaving creates a greater degree of balance and helps the teeth rest against each other better.
  • Recontouring: A cosmetic procedure, recontouring involves enamel microabrasion via tool or gel to improve the appearance of teeth, particularly if they appear crooked or uneven.
  • Creating More Room: Patients with crowding teeth or a small jaw may be steered toward this procedure, which files down the teeth to reduce crowding and any issues related to pain or alignment.
  • Partial Dentures: If a patient is receiving a partial denture, the teeth will be reshaped to fit the clasps and anchor points.
  • A Crown: A patient may receive a crown following a root canal or to protect a damaged tooth. As part of the preparation, some of the enamel is shaved and contoured to make space for and fit the crown.
  • Veneers: Veneers are strictly cosmetic. So the pieces of porcelain or enamel seamlessly blend in with your existing teeth, some enamel will first be removed from the front of the tooth.
  • Braces: For patients with misalignment or crowding issues who are getting braces, some of the enamel may be shaved off first to better fit the wires to the teeth.

To learn more about restorative and cosmetic procedures, contact us today.