Preparing for a Trip to the Dentist

Room to Manoeuvre: Why Your Orthodontist Might Shave Your Teeth Before Invisalign

Sometimes it's necessary to shave a patient before certain medical procedures, such as some types of surgery. But your Invisalign is a non-invasive orthodontic treatment, which certainly isn't surgery. So why do some patients need teeth shaving before they can begin their orthodontic treatment?

Dental Enamel Shaving

It's possible for a dentist to remove small imperfections and abnormalities from a tooth's surface with a method known as teeth shaving. This involves an ultra-thin layer of the tooth's enamel being shaved off. There's no razor, and while the process is called shaving, it uses a small handheld tool which buffs the target area, removing enamel without damaging the tooth. Why is this a requirement for some patients before their Invisalign treatment can begin?

Your Invisalign Trays

Each Invisalign tray fits precisely over a patient's upper and lower dental arch. The thermoplastic tray then exerts gentle pressure across the surfaces of the teeth, shifting them to match the tray's outline. This outline represents the maximum attainable movement of each tray. Once this has been achieved, the tray is replaced, and this replacement is repeated until you exhaust all the required trays, meaning your treatment has been completed.

Nowhere to Go

This movement can only happen when your teeth have room to move. When a patient's bite is particularly crowded, interdental spaces (the gaps between your teeth) may have been significantly reduced. Teeth can't move into the desired alignment because the lack of interdental space gives them nowhere to go. 

Proper Movement

To facilitate the proper movement of your teeth, your orthodontist may need to give them room to manoeuvre. This effect is created with interproximal reduction, which is the enamel reduction of a tooth's interdental sides (which are the mesial and/or distal surfaces of the tooth). 

Interproximal Reduction

Interproximal reduction is performed with a combination of tools. Your orthodontist may use a small file, abrasive strips, or even a small diamond-coated disc which rotates at high speeds. Your dental enamel has no nerves, so it won't hurt. At most, there will be brief discomfort from the vibrations caused by the process. The effects are immediate but so minor that you'll be unlikely to notice them. 

Once your interproximal reduction has been performed, your orthodontist can take accurate measurements to make your Invisalign trays. And these trays will now be able to do their job since your orthodontist has given your teeth room to manoeuvre.

For more information about preparing for Invisalign, contact a local dental professional.