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How Will a Dentist Treat Tooth Size Discrepancy?

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Although the size and shape of teeth will vary slightly from one person to another, the sizes of the teeth in your mouth should appear proportionate to each other. When they don't, this is known as tooth size discrepancy (TSD). Unless it affects the alignment of your bite, it's not a clinical problem. It's generally a cosmetic concern, affecting the symmetry of your smile. For example, an upper left canine tooth may be larger, or with a sharper point, than its upper right cousin. Does TSD need to be treated?

A Cosmetic Issue

Since it's a cosmetic issue, treatment for TSD is completely optional. Some people affected by the condition may decide to do nothing, but it's very much a personal decision. There's no universal way in which TSD affects a person's smile, and those with a barely noticeable discrepancy may not even consider treatment. But if you're looking to do something about your own TSD, how can a dentist help?

Creating Symmetry

Treatment will be performed by a cosmetic dentist, who will take the necessary steps to create symmetry in your smile. What are these steps? This really depends on your individual case, but since the size and shape of a specific tooth (or teeth) will be altered to match its counterpart in the same dental arch, it's a matter of resizing a tooth (or at least creating the appearance of a change in size), and this can involve making a tooth larger or smaller.

Reducing the Tooth's Size

When it's more appropriate to reduce the size of a tooth to create symmetry, this is achieved with enamel contouring. Your dentist simply shaves an ultra-thin layer of dental enamel away from the tooth, manually shaping it until the desired size and shape has been reached. Your dentist will be careful to leave the tooth with a sufficient layer of protective dental enamel, so the tooth doesn't inadvertently become more vulnerable to decay. 

Increasing the Tooth's Size

There are several options when your dentist decides that it's more appropriate to add bulk to a tooth. This bulk can be added in the form of a composite dental resin, which is tooth-colored. It's applied to the tooth in layers, shaped, and dried—forming a hard, durable outer surface for the tooth. A dental crown can be applied to create the same effect. However, in many cases, a simple ceramic dental veneer attached to the outward-facing surface of the tooth can change its appearance to achieve the desired symmetry.

TSD can be bothersome for some people, knowing that without proper dental intervention, their smile will always lack symmetry. Fortunately, this intervention isn't complicated or invasive. Contact a cosmetic dentist in your area to find out more.