Teeth Shaving Before And After Braces?

In order to change the shape, length, or size of the teeth, a cosmetic dentistry treatment called teeth shaving, often referred to as tooth contouring, involves removing small pieces of tooth enamel. This surgery is frequently used to improve small flaws or to produce a smile that is more even and symmetrical. It is only reasonable to want to see before and after pictures to get an idea of what the outcomes might look like if you are thinking about having your teeth shaved as part of your orthodontic treatment with braces or Invisalign. In order to give you a better idea of what to expect from the operation, we will outline the teeth shaving process as it relates to braces or Invisalign in this article and include some before and after photographs.

Why do orthodontist shave your teeth?

Teeth shaving enables braces to straighten the teeth as opposed to crowding together with awkward positioning. This generally eliminates the need for the orthodontist to remove any teeth.

Do orthodontist file teeth before braces or Invisalign?

Typically teeth are shaved prior to orthodontic treatment when the orthodontist believes there may be an overcrowding issue, an X-ray is used to measure all of the teeth. This is compared to the size of the individual’s mouth. If there is overcrowding, the orthodontist will recommend shaving down teeth prior to putting braces on the patient’s teeth.

Many individuals have wondered how does teeth shaving work. The process is simple although not every orthodontist uses the same tools. One of the most frequently used is called a diamond strip.This is a flexible, thin piece of metal designed to fit between the teeth.

How do dentists and orthodontist shave teeth?

The orthodontist slides the diamond strip back and forth until enough enamel has been shaved away. Prior to this procedure, the patient will be given a numbing agent to help them remain comfortable. This eliminates most if not all of the pain.

The teeth are not narrowed by much. In most cases, only a few millimeters per tooth is necessary. Once all of the teeth have been narrowed, there is enough room for the teeth to be properly aligned with braces.

Teeth Shaving - Will it Correct Crowding

Additional Reasons for Shaving the Teeth

There are several different reasons an orthodontist may recommend this procedure. In some cases, the reasons are cosmetic. The most common reasons are defined below.

Replacing Teeth: When an individual has a missing or broken tooth, the adjacent teeth may need to be shaved. This will make certain the replacement tooth fits correctly. This procedure is not always necessary when replacing a tooth.

Cosmetic Re-contouring: Shaving the teeth is important for this procedure so they appear straighter. This is generally done for the two front teeth because they are the most visible. This is the most common reason this procedure is performed.

Adjusting the Shape: When an individual has a tooth with an odd shape, the orthodontist will shave the tooth to improve the appearance. This procedure also corrects uneven and unlevel teeth.

The Fit of Dentures: Shaving the teeth is generally performed prior to using any type of dental hardware including dentures. This ensures the hardware fits correctly and easily onto the teeth. In some cases, a notch may need to be shaved into the teeth.

A Necessity for Adults: Since the jaws and pallets for adults are already fully developed, the orthodontist is unable to make any adjustments. This means shaving the teeth is usually necessary when an adult requires braces. The wires of the braces are adjusted by the orthodontist to make certain the braces will close all of the gaps. These gaps are extremely small and virtually unnoticeable.

It is important to note the most important aspects of any orthodontic treatment are the skill and experience of the orthodontist. An orthodontist is required to complete much more extensive schooling and training than a dentist. The final step is similar to residency training. The student works with a qualified orthodontist to learn specific skills. This is where the skill of the orthodontist becomes apparent.

Teeth shaving side effects

A dental procedure such as this isn’t generally considered to be risky. The procedure is often viewed as conservative, however recent studies have raised some concerns.
If a tooth is already fragile, odontoplasty may pose a greater risk. It’s possible for a dentist to use materials to strengthen a broken tooth so that it can support a crown when a dentist reshapes or damages a tooth.


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Do orthodontist shave teeth after braces or Invisalign?

Teeth Staging

In some cases, the braces are applied prior to shaving the teeth. This is referred to as staging. This ensures the teeth are in a better position prior to being shaved. The orthodontist can use their instruments without coming into contact with any of the other teeth. This is a fairly common procedure although it is not necessary for every patient. There are two types of procedures for teeth staging.

By Hand: The orthodontist generally used a diamond-coated abrasive strip. The strip is worked backward and forward between the teeth. This procedure is effective when a greater reduction is required.

The Dental Drill: The orthodontist will use a diamond-coated, spinning disk or burr to shave the teeth. This procedure is used when less reduction is necessary.

The teeth shaving procedure is not necessary for every patient. There are numerous patients who have orthodontic treatments to close gaps between their teeth without shaving their teeth being necessary. The procedure is common for individuals with overly large teeth or overcrowding to provide a significantly improved smile. Shaving the teeth is so common, the procedure has been perfected. This means the risk factor is extremely low. The actual amount of enamel removed by the orthodontist is dependent on the specific needs of each patient.

Once the shaving has been completed, most individuals will not notice the difference. The teeth may be a little sensitive right after the procedure. In most cases, this is due to the correctional procedure performed at the same time as opposed to the actual shaving. The movement of the teeth can result in a slight sensitivity. This is usually nothing to be concerned about and will disappear naturally.

How much does teeth shaving cost?

The cost of shaving the teeth is dependent on a lot of different factors. This includes the area in which the individual lives, the orthodontist performing the procedure, how many teeth require shaving, the amount of shaving necessary and the complexity of the overall procedure. On average, teeth shaving cost is anywhere from seventy to 250 dollars for each tooth if the individual does not have any insurance. If the procedure is necessary due to an accident, the majority of dental insurance policies will cover a portion of the cost.

Whether or not this procedure will be covered by insurance for any other reason is dependent on the dental policy of each individual. This is a good option for improving the appearance of the teeth. In many instances, this procedure is necessary for straight teeth or correcting teeth with an awkward shape. The process is usually not painful because there are no nerves for the orthodontist to disturb.

Here are a few studies that have investigated teeth shaving as a cosmetic dentistry procedure:

  1. “Tooth reshaping: a conservative approach to improving the smile” by J.E. Geist and M.B. Haywood (Journal of the American Dental Association, 1997)
  2. “Tooth contouring and reshaping: a review of the literature” by J.R. Calamia and A.F. Schreiner (Journal of the American Dental Association, 1976)
  3. “Tooth reshaping: a clinical report” by J.F. Doherty and M.B. Haywood (Journal of the American Dental Association, 1991)
  4. “Tooth reshaping: a review of the literature” by D.S. Dowsett and C.J. Deacon (British Dental Journal, 2002)

These studies provide insight into the effectiveness, safety, and potential risks of teeth shaving as a cosmetic dentistry procedure. They may be helpful for anyone considering teeth shaving or for dental professionals looking to learn more about the procedure.


Having teeth shaved down for Invisalign or braces can provide a number of benefits. Besides improving the health of your mouth and reducing head and neck pain, it can also make your smile look more even. We hope this article has answered some of your questions regarding when to shave/file teeth, the pain, costs, and possible side effects. Always consult a professional, and never try to file down your teeth yourself with some kind of DIY project.

Teeth Shaving – Will it Correct Crowding?

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