Mark Gurarie is a freelance writer, editor, and adjunct lecturer of writing composition at George Washington University.

Learn about our editorial processPublished on February 03, 2022Medically reviewedVerywell Health articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more.byEdmund Khoo, DDS Medically reviewed byEdmund Khoo, DDS

Edmund Khoo, DDS, is board-certified in orthodontics and is a Diplomate of the American Board of Orthodontics.

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Tooth contouring, also known as tooth reshaping, enameloplasty, or odontoplasty, is a cosmetic dental procedure that fixes minor issues with your smile. It involves removing small portions of tooth enamel to correct chipped, cracked, or crooked teeth or improve their appearance. This work, performed using specialized instruments or removable strips, is generally painless and well-tolerated.

This article provides a quick overview of tooth contouring, including the benefits of the procedure, risks, and what care is like afterward.

Are You a Good Candidate for Dental Contouring?

Generally speaking, dental or tooth contouring is an elective cosmetic procedure. This treatment is not appropriate for all patients and all cases. The conditions best treated with this procedure are:

Significant dental issues or damage can’t be treated with tooth contouring or may require treatments alongside it. In those cases, dental crowns, orthodontics, veneers, bonding, bridges, or other approaches are considered.

Underlying tooth health is also a factor; cavities, loose teeth, or other issues can contraindicate tooth reshaping.

Among the most common tooth contouring procedures focuses on altering the appearance of your canine teeth (the pointy teeth, also known as cuspids). The aim of this work to reduce the length of these teeth by evenly and methodically grinding away the excess enamel.

What to Expect at the Procedure

Tooth reshaping and contouring is performed by a dentist or cosmetic dentist in the office. Here’s what you need to know about how it’s done:

Tooth Contouring and Reshaping Tips


While tooth reshaping isn’t appropriate for every case, there are a number of key benefits to having this work done. These include:

Potential Risks

As with any dental procedure—and despite your dentist’s best efforts—there are some potential risks to tooth reshaping. The enamel layer is very thin—only about 2.6 millimeters—so dentists have to be very careful; problems can arise if too much is taken off.

Tooth contouring may cause:

Given the potential for damage to your teeth, tooth contouring isn’t something you should try at home. Not only is a great deal of special training needed, it’s especially dangerous to perform this work on your own mouth. In doing so, you risk damaging your own teeth.


Unlike many other cosmetic dental treatments, no special steps are needed when recovering from tooth reshaping. It’ll be important, however, to keep up with the basics of dental hygiene:

You should also call your dentist if your teeth feel rough afterward. This may be a sign of plaque or tartar build-up, or another issue with the procedure.


Tooth contouring, also known as odontoplasty or enameloplasty, is a cosmetic procedure that aims to reshape your teeth to correct the appearance of your smile. While there are limitations to what it can do, this treatment can shorten overlong incisors, fix minor chips and cracks and pits in tooth enamel, and make your teeth more symmetrical.

While this is a painless, well-tolerated procedure, there are a couple of risks. Risks include temporary tooth sensitivity, increased risk of tooth decay or damage, or yellowing of the teeth.

While no specific steps are needed for aftercare, you should still monitor dental health, brush twice a day, floss daily, and get regular dental care.

A Word From Verywell

While it’s easy to dismiss work like tooth contouring as merely “cosmetic,” it’s important to remember the many benefits of having an even, attractive set of teeth. It can be stigmatizing and difficult to feel unattractive or to feel you have to hide your teeth. With effective intervention and the help of a good dentist, however, you may find your confidence restored. And that’s something worth smiling about.

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