Interproximal Reduction

Interproximal Reduction: Reducing tooth widths for form, function, and stability

Interproximal reduction is the removal of some of the outer tooth surface, called enamel, usually between teeth that touch; it has been used in orthodontics since the 1940s. It is also known as slenderizing, stripping, enamel reduction, reproximation, and selective reduction. It is used in tradition braces and Invisalign treatment alike.

Whatever the name, the intentions are the same–to acquire more space for your teeth, to bring your teeth into alignment, to improve your bite (the way your teeth come together) or to make the teeth more attractive. Sometimes interproximal reduction is done alone, but it is usually done in combination with orthodontic appliance treatment (traditional braces, Invisalign, etc.) Sometimes it is even done in conjunction with tooth extractions. Sometimes it is done following orthodontic treatment to establish stability. Many times front teeth are contoured during or after orthodontic treatment to create a balanced and harmonious appearance of teeth. Your orthodontist will recommend enamel reduction if it is a solution to your individual need.

Will interproximal reduction damage my teeth or gums?

The health of your teeth and gums is of utmost concern to your orthodontist. Studies among patients who have had interproximal reduction show that the procedure does not make teeth more susceptible to tooth decay. Nor does the procedure predispose gums to gum disease. Occasionally, some patients may experience some sensitivity to hot or cold. Overall, the results are generally positive.

How does interproximal reduction work?

1. Your doctor will identify which teeth are to be slenderized.

2. Enamel is removed from the sides of each tooth, where the tooth comes in contact with neighboring teeth. The enamel may be removed manually or with the aid of a specially designed dental handpiece.

3. Your orthodontist carefully removes the desired amount of enamel, leaving each tooth with sufficient enamel to remain healthy and sound.

4. In performing enamel reduction, the doctor carefully creates needed space that will allow teeth to be placed so that the bite is improved and the teeth take on a pleasing appearance.

5. Desired positioning can be achieved after teeth are slenderized.

How will this procedure help my treatment?

Interproximal reduction will help your orthodontist position your teeth for good function and good looks. In some cases, enough space can be created so that teeth do not need to be removed. After your braces are removed, your more slender teeth are more likely to stay where your orthodontist has moved them.

If you have further questions regarding this procedure, please call our office (562)421-8883 for more information. We are now accepting new patients and serving the cities of Long Beach, Signal Hill, Los Alamitos, Lakewood, Huntington Beach, Cypress, Seal Beach, and Cerritos.


Article Courtesy of the American Association of Orthodontists