Re-contouring or reshaping the teeth (also called odontoplasty, enameloplasty, stripping or slenderizing) is a procedure in which small amounts of tooth enamel are removed to change a tooth’s length, shape or surface. The procedure is usually done to improve appearance by creating more harmony or balance in the look of the smile.

Re-contouring is the most conservative cosmetic treatment. It is a quick and painless procedure whose results can be seen immediately.

Who Should Consider Re-contouring

Re-contouring is an effective method to correct minor imperfections, such as:

  • Fixing small chips

  • Smoothing out bulges or pits in a tooth’s enamel

  • Adjusting slight irregular tooth shapes caused by too many or uneven teeth

  • Adjusting the length of the canines (the pointed teeth on the side of your mouth)

  • Re-contouring can also improve overall dental health by removing crevices or overlaps between teeth in which plaque or tartar can accumulate.

  • Re-contouring is not recommended if your teeth have substantial imperfections, such as a substantial chip or deep fracture.

  • Re-contouring is not a substitute for veneers, however, it is often used in combination with these procedures.

What Does Re-contouring Involve?

Initial exam

To determine if you are an appropriate candidate for re-contouring, your dentist may first take an X-ray of your teeth to determine the size and location of the tooth’s pulp (the center of the tooth that contains the nerves and blood vessels). If the tooth’s enamel layer is too thin or if the pulp lies too close to the tooth’s surface, re-contouring may not be possible and another procedure – such as bonding or veneers – might need to be considered instead.

The procedure

At your appointment, your dentist will use a sanding disc or a fine diamond bur to remove small amounts of tooth enamel. To reach imperfections between teeth, your dentist may use a strip of sandpaper to shape and smooth the sides. Once shaped, your dentist will finish the process by polishing your tooth or teeth.

Since re-contouring does not affect the pulp of the tooth, an anesthetic is not usually needed.