Cosmetic Dental Contouring: What Is it and What's It Used For?

More and more people are looking for a beautiful and attractive smile. We'll tell you about cosmetic dental contouring and its benefits, read on!
Cosmetic Dental Contouring: What Is it and What's It Used For?
Vanesa Evangelina Buffa

Written and verified by the dentist Vanesa Evangelina Buffa.

Last update: 25 August, 2022

Nowadays, more and more people are looking for perfect and radiant teeth. Today we’ll tell you about cosmetic dental contouring, a dental technique used to improve a person’s smile.

If you stop to look at the mouths of several celebrities, you may have noticed how perfect they look. And it’s not just the radiant white color that’s striking. The alignment is also impeccable, with no irregularities or unevenness between the teeth. And the treatment we’ll be telling you about today focuses on the smile.

It’s a process that eliminates irregularities in the silhouette of each tooth. In this way, it ensures that the front teeth are well leveled. What other benefits does it provide? How is it done? Here we’ll tell you all about it.

What is cosmetic dental contouring?

Most people have small irregularities on the edges of their teeth. This is simply part of the anatomy of each tooth, and is a normal situation that doesn’t affect the functions or health of the mouth. However, it can affect esthetics.

Some people are very demanding when it comes to the appearance of their teeth. Eliminating these slight imperfections leads to improving the appearance of the dentition and achieving that perfect smile. To this end, a dental procedure known as “cosmetic dental contouring” has been developed.

Above all, it’s a procedure that makes the front teeth look uniform, aligned, and all on the same level. It’s also known as “ameloplasty”. It’s considered minimally invasive, although it involves minor wear of the enamel.

The dentist makes slight adjustments to the edges of the teeth until the desired appearance is achieved. The length, shape, and even the surface of the tooth elements are shaped and subtly modified.

This corrects minor defects such as irregularities in the incisal line, pointed teeth, or teeth that are too long. In addition, all teeth are made to look even and uniform. In itself, it is a quick, simple and painless process. It’s only applied on teeth with minimal esthetic requirements.

It is usually performed on anterior elements. Incisors that are too long or irregular, or very pointed canines, are the teeth most frequently intervened with this practice.

The results obtained are permanent. Therefore, they require high technical precision when performed. Once performed, no corrections are possible.

A man receiving cosmetic dental contouring.
Cosmetic dental contouring is a minimally invasive procedure that improves the appearance of the smile instantly.

Benefits of cosmetic dental contouring

Cosmetic dental contouring allows you to achieve an aligned smile in a simple and uncomplicated way. Here are its main benefits:

  • Speed. The procedure is performed in a single session.
  • Painless. There’ll be no pain or sensitivity issues during the treatment. Nor does it usually cause discomfort once it’s finished.
  • No anesthesia is used. There’s no need to desensitize the area, as it works on the most superficial layer of the teeth.
  • It isn’t very invasive. Slight wear of the dental enamel is performed, without interfering with the health or function of the element.
  • It doesn’t require specific aftercare.
  • It improves the appearance of the smile and thus the patient’s self-esteem and confidence.
  • It facilitates oral hygiene by eliminating irregularities that favor the accumulation of bacterial plaque.
  • It has a low cost compared to other aesthetic treatments.
  • The results are permanent.

How is cosmetic dental contouring performed?

As we have already mentioned, the cosmetic dental contouring procedure is quick, simple and painless. Its execution can be divided into the following stages.

1. Diagnosis

Before proceeding, it’s necessary to perform a complete study of the patient’s oral condition. The health of the teeth and the esthetic needs of the case can be assessed by inspecting the mouth, and taking x-rays and photographs. In addition, the patient’s aims are taken into account.

2. Planning

Once the need and the possibility of performing cosmetic dental contouring is determined, the dentist and patient will plan where the contouring will be carried out. At this stage, the results that can be achieved are presented to the patient in order to obtain their approval and avoid misunderstandings.

3. Polishing of the most evident defects and irregularities

With high precision rotary instruments, the planned grinding/contouring is performed. The enamel is polished little by little to give it the desired shape.

Exaggerated tips, protruding surfaces and irregular or uneven edges are corrected. As it works on the most superficial part of the teeth, it isn’t necessary to use anesthesia.

4. Evaluation of the results

After the correction of the most noticeable defects, the results are analyzed together with the patient. It’s determined if any more work needs to be done or if the desired objectives have been achieved.

5. Final polishing

To improve the finish, the parts are polished with an ultrafine-grained diamond paste. This optimizes the appearance of the tooth surface and restores its natural shine.

One session is all it takes

The procedure is completed in a single session, and it usually takes no more than an hour. After the intervention, the patient can lead a normal life.

However, the dentist usually recommends the use of some special products at home to protect the enamel. Toothpastes for sensitivity or mouthwashes with fluoride will better preserve the new smile.

Indications for cosmetic dental contouring

As we told you, cosmetic dental contouring is the ideal procedure to make the teeth look uniform. However, it isn’t always possible to apply this technique.

Beyond the patient’s desire to achieve a beautiful smile, the dentist must evaluate other aspects before resorting to this technique. An intact tooth structure and sufficient enamel thickness will be necessary.

Large and healthy teeth allow an adequate working margin and avoid discomfort and setbacks after treatment. For this reason, as we mentioned, a thorough study of the case and the oral characteristics are fundamental.

These data are what will allow us to decide whether cosmetic dental contouring is the best option or if other esthetic procedures will be necessary. In itself, this technique is only recommended if the irregularities in the teeth are small. If they’re larger, then orthodontic treatment or resin veneering would be a better procedure.

Contraindications of dental contouring

Cosmetic dental contouring isn’t recommended in weakened teeth, those with fillings or reconstructions, or if you suffer from hypersensitivity. Neither is it recommended in patients with cancer, diabetes, or osteoporosis.

The age of the person is another factor to be taken into account, as the treatment is only used in adults. It’s essential that the person has all their permanent teeth and that the bone tissue is completely solidified.

The jaws must be fully grown and developed. If not, occlusion problems may appear in the future.

If the patient is wearing orthodontics, dental contouring should be performed when the braces are discontinued. Once the malocclusions and structural problems of the mouth have been corrected, it’s time to perform the necessary esthetic treatments. Neither is it recommended in the following cases:

  • Teeth that are too short
  • Teeth that have lost a lot of tissue due to bruxism and other harmful habits.
  • Dental malocclusions or crowded teeth. In this case, orthodontic treatment is necessary.
  • Very stained teeth.
  • Elements with very thin enamel.

Recommendations to take into account after cosmetic dental contouring

Once the cosmetic dental contouring has been performed, the patient can immediately lead a normal life. However, specialists recommend some care tips to maintain the effects achieved.

  • Don’t eat very hard foods, as these can affect the tooth surface that has been worked on.
  • Avoid sodas and carbonated beverages that corrode the carved area.
  • Don’t bite your nails or other objects.
  • Use fluoride toothpaste for tooth sensitivity.
  • Maintain proper and thorough oral hygiene. Brush properly three times a day and complement with dental floss and oral rinses.
  • Attend the scheduled dental check-ups to monitor the evolution of the procedure and detect any problems in time.
  • Don’t smoke.
A woman brushing her teeth.
Proper oral hygiene coupled with good eating habits can help maintain the aesthetic results of this intervention.

Another great article for oral health: What’s Enamel Hypoplasia and How is it Treated?

Achieving the perfect smile

Cosmetic dental contouring makes it possible to achieve a more beautiful smile. The subtle wear of the enamel of the front teeth is able to regularize and unify the appearance of these more visible teeth. But its use will only be possible in cases of slight imbalances.

However, it’s good to know that it can also be combined with other aesthetic procedures, such as cleaning, whitening, or veneers. After all, the best smile isn’t only the one that looks good, but also the one that allows you to perform the mouth’s functions without any problems.

Taking care of your oral health consistently and responsibly is one of the best strategies to achieve attractive, healthy teeth.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

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  • Nuñez Roman, M. (2016). Estética dental y su relación con la autoestima de los estudiantes del IV Ciclo de la Escuela Académico Profesional de Estomatología de la Universidad Alas Peruanas, año 2015.
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  • Aguiar, H. C., Rodrigues, C. R. T., Goyatá, F. D. R., Izolani Neto, O., & Landa, F. V. D. (2013). Remodelação estética em dentes anteriores: relato de caso clínico. Clín. int. j. braz. dent, 396-402.
  • Sarver, D. M. (2011). Enameloplasty and Esthetic Finishing in Orthodontics—Identification and Treatment of Microesthetic Features in Orthodontics Part 1. Journal of esthetic and restorative dentistry23(5), 296-302.
  • Pontons-Melo, J. C. (2019). Cosmetic recontouring for achieving anterior esthetics (Doctoral dissertation, Department of Esthetic and Restorative Dentistry, School of Dentistry, Universidad Científica del Sur).
  • Galletti, C. (2013). Patients with extensive esthetic enhancement requests. Some tips for finishing and detailing. Journal of Dentofacial Anomalies and Orthodontics16(2).
  • Machado, A. W. (2014). 10 commandments of smile esthetics. Dental Press Journal of Orthodontics19, 136-157.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.