Are you content and happy with the shape of your teeth and your smile? If not, then you want to do something about it. Cosmetic contouring could be an ideal solution. Even though it is a simple procedure, cosmetic contouring effectively transforms your smile. The procedure is pain-free and one of the most conservative cosmetic dental treatments, yet it achieves compelling results.

If you wish to learn more about cosmetic contouring, we at Washington Dental can help you through our consultation and treatment sessions. Thanks to decades of combined experience, our dental professionals can quickly determine how slight contouring can revolutionize your smile and confidence if done in the appropriate area.

Even though it is straightforward, patients are usually surprised by the outcome of our cosmetic contouring procedure. With minimal expenses and treatment, you will achieve optimal results. Call us today for a consultation if you wish to undergo these services in Lomita, CA.

What Is Cosmetic Contouring?

Cosmetic contouring is a dental procedure that involves gently filing away small parts of the enamel to enhance the shape, size, length, or surface of one or several teeth to balance them and improve a patient's smile. Also known as enameloplasty, odontoplasty, or tooth reshaping/contouring, cosmetic contouring addresses numerous dental problems, including crooked, chipped, misaligned, or cracked teeth. The procedure is a cost-effective alternative to other dental treatments.

Conducted by a cosmetic dentist, the treatment is an effective way to transform your smile. Even though the thought of filing away the enamel might sound pretty alarming, cosmetic contouring is an entirely pain-free and safe procedure.

Usually, the dentist does the filing bit by bit, ensuring no more tooth enamel than is strictly required is extracted. Additionally, it takes only minimal sculpting to change the overall appearance of a smile entirely.

It is not unusual for the teeth's tips to be slightly misshapen or for a single tooth to be slightly longer than others. You can level out the teeth by slightly shaving the tips, enhancing their appearance, and mending the entire smile.

And it is not only the upper teeth. Bottom teeth are equally prone to crookedness, although only minimal filing along the biting edge is needed to create a much straighter, more esthetically appealing smile.

Who Is The Ideal Candidate for Cosmetic Contouring?

Cosmetic contouring may be your ideal option for improving your smile by correcting minor flaws. From cracks to chips and permanent stains, contouring can solve these slight imperfections and enhance your smile. This procedure also addresses other dental issues, including minor tooth overlapping, teeth with unusual shapes, lengths, and sizes, and overcrowding. Even though these problems are still minor, they can lead to future problems if left unresolved.

Not everybody with the problems mentioned above is a suitable candidate for cosmetic contouring treatment, which is why it is an elective type of treatment. The procedure will only be effective if you have small cracks, chips, bulges, or pits on your teeth. The procedure will also not solve severe cases of crooked or overlapped teeth.

Also, your tooth structure restricts the cosmetic contouring procedure. That means any area to be shaped should not be so thin—adequate enamel must be present to adjust the tooth's appearance.

If your tooth enamel is so thin or weak or you desire a dramatic transformation, you may not be a suitable candidate for cosmetic contouring. Your dentist may instead recommend other cosmetic dentistry procedures.

The most common alternative treatment for enamel that is too weak or thin for contouring is veneers. Veneers are custom-made shells that fit over the front surfaces of teeth. They enhance the appearance of misshapen teeth by masking flaws in those teeth.

Cosmetic contouring will also not be ideal if you have unhealthy gums, root canals, or decaying gums. In this case, more comprehensive dental treatments will be required.

When deciding whether the tooth contouring procedure is appropriate for you, consult your dentist for their opinion. A dentist will clearly describe what cosmetic contouring can achieve for your specific needs and health history.

Since cosmetic means the treatment is not medically necessary, a significant part of the decision to undergo contouring is up to you. Your focus on budget and appearance are two primary factors as far as making this decision is concerned.

The Cosmetic Contouring Procedure

The following are the steps involved in the cosmetic surgery procedure:


Before your dentist begins the cosmetic contouring procedure, they will examine your gums and enamel to see whether they are healthy. They will often take X-ray pictures to gain insight into your enamel and assess where treatment is appropriate. They will check the amount of enamel present and whether it can withstand tooth reshaping. Also, before the procedure starts, ask your dental professional about the risks, side effects, and benefits.

Teeth Marking

Once your dental professional examines your teeth, they will mark and label them using an intraoral indelible pencil, digital system, or orthodontic pen. They will scan the teeth digitally and make adjustments to the digital impression. At this point, your dental professional will discuss your treatment goals and needs to ensure you obtain an optimal outcome. Your discretion is critical during the discussion since you can express what you hope to achieve.

Research shows that this step is helpful for bite correction and tooth alignment. During marking, dental professionals center on affected areas with cosmetic problems like stains, spots, uneven edges, or cracks. Most dental professionals also conduct this step manually and begin the contouring procedure.

Teeth Shaping or Contouring

Once the dental professional finishes marking the affected teeth, they will start reshaping. They will shave a thin layer of enamel using tools such as a laser or drill to avoid excess pressure on the tooth. For example, if one of your incisors has a stain, the dentist will use a sanding disk to buff away the surface and gently remove the stain. Enamel refers to the hard external tooth layer that safeguards the vulnerable inner part of the tooth. Thus, this treatment is restricted by your specific tooth structure to not expose your tooth to possible damage or risk.

The dentist's next step may be shortening longer teeth, shaping uneven teeth, or smoothing jagged edges. For this procedure, they use tools like a fine diamond bur or sanding disc to remove imperfections. These buffing pieces of equipment also assist in removing surface stains.

Bonding (Optional)

The dentist may do bonding if you require more extensive reshaping or have large gaps or chipped teeth ( Bonding utilizes a tooth-colored, putty-like resin to shape teeth further after contouring. The bonding agent, when applied, hardens to look like the natural color of your teeth. Generally, bonding increases the cost of the contouring procedure.

Tooth bonding is a critical step in the cosmetic contouring procedure. It may be necessary since the tooth may become vulnerable once the enamel is removed. Therefore, restoring the tooth with the bonding process is crucial for its health and preventing future dental dilemmas. The dentist ensures the bonding is in the same shade as the tooth for a more natural appearance.

Recovery and Aftercare

As teeth contouring is often a harmless and quick procedure, it takes approximately ten minutes to complete, depending on the number of teeth that need reshaping. Recovering from tooth contouring usually does not necessitate much care. But sometimes, patients feel sensitivity in the enamel after the treatment. Unlike the basic contouring procedure, bonding necessitates more aftercare. Even though the bonding material will harden onto the tooth quickly, it may still chip or crack after a given period.

If you undergo bonding, avoid eating sticky or hard foods, biting your fingernails, and chewing gum. Consuming dark foods such as dark chocolate, leafy green veggies, blueberries, smoking cigarettes or tobacco, or drinking soda, coffee, and tea can stain the bonding material. Once you have undergone the cosmetic contouring procedure successfully, ensure to:

  • Continue to brush twice daily, gently, with nonabrasive toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush.
  • Floss at least once daily, and
  • Schedule dental visits at least twice a year.
  • Refrain from utilizing tobacco products or smoking.
  • Avoid chewing on ice and other nonfood substances that may harm your tooth enamel.

The Cost of Cosmetic Contouring

On average, anticipate paying approximately $50-$300 for treatment per tooth, per the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. The cost may rise if you must undergo tooth bonding and may vary depending on your dental professional and location.

Generally, insurance does not pay for tooth contouring or any other cosmetic dentistry treatment. But insurance might fully or partially cover the treatment if your teeth broke due to an accident. Most cosmetic dentistry procedures are more affordable than orthodontic treatments, although the cost varies per patient.

Benefits of Cosmetic Contouring

While cosmetic contouring can provide several advantages, it is one of the primary treatments designed to enhance your appearance. Therefore, this treatment procedure can come with other benefits, even if your primary goal is to improve your smile's appearance. Whether or not these apply to you will be based on your specific health history and enamel structure.

Other advantages of tooth contouring include the following:

  • The procedure is cost-effective—compared to orthodontic and other cosmetic dental procedures, tooth contouring is more affordable. Dental braces may cost up to seven thousand dollars, making them much more costly. Settling for tooth contouring instead of obtaining Invisalign, braces, or veneers can save you thousands of dollars.
  • It Is a simple and short procedure—cosmetic contouring is painless and quick. Expect to be out of the dentist's chair in approximately ten minutes if no additional procedures like bonding are performed during the same visit.
  • Painless procedure—most patients do not experience any discomfort when undergoing the treatment. Anesthesia is not necessary.
  • Enhances oral hygiene—if you have overlapping teeth, decay will likely build up since it is challenging to clean them appropriately. Scraping the overlaps and chips off the teeth through cosmetic contouring reduces the chances of the build-up. Through contouring, the dentist can remove the tooth enamel, causing overlapping between teeth, making the teeth more aligned and easier to clean. This improves overall dental hygiene, eventually lowering the chances of developing gum disease or cavities.
  • Noninvasive—another important benefit of cosmetic contouring is that it is entirely noninvasive. Dental professionals use a laser or sanding disk to adjust the length and shape of teeth.
  • It corrects the damage from teeth grinding, also called bruxism. Cosmetic Contouring can alleviate the damage caused by teeth grinding by smoothing out jagged, uneven areas.
  • It is permanent and does not require any other procedures. Tooth contouring is a one-time, permanent treatment that will not require repairs or reversal. Ensure you properly care for your teeth after contouring to prevent further enamel loss.

Side Effects and Risks

Common risks and side effects of tooth contouring include the following:

  • Tooth fracture—the thinned-out tooth enamel can chip or fracture more easily if the dental professional removes plenty of enamel.
  • Tooth sensitivity—at times, removing plenty of enamel from teeth may cause sensitivity.

Cosmetic Contouring Disadvantages

One disadvantage of cosmetic contouring is that the procedure depends on the tooth’s structure and layout. Since this procedure entails removing tooth enamel, it is restricted by how thick it is at the places that need reshaping. That means the treatment can only rectify slight cosmetic issues and not make extreme changes to your bite or appearance.

Another disadvantage is the procedure’s incompatibility with intricate problems. Cosmetic contouring does not fix intricate dental problems, including severe tooth decay or prominent overlapping teeth. Tooth contouring is ideal for slight cosmetic problems on overall healthy teeth.

Fortunately, your dentist will come in handy in deciding if tooth contouring will meet your specific needs. They will examine your teeth and take X-ray pictures to assess your enamel and determine what areas need contouring.

Should the procedure thin your tooth enamel, it increases the chances of it wearing down and the odds of you developing associated dental issues such as tooth sensitivity. Due to this, you want to practice a proper dental oral care routine once you undergo contouring.

Cosmetic contouring is also not long-lasting. Even though contouring is cost-effective and non-invasive, it will not last long if you ignore your oral health.

Another drawback of cosmetic contouring is that there is a risk of sensitivity. Because a significant part of the procedure is to shave part of the tooth enamel, there is always the risk of tooth sensitivity. Enamel is what protects teeth from infections and damage. Thus, it is critical to go to a dentist specializing in cosmetic treatments. Tooth sensitivity also increases the chances of gum disease and tooth decay. And if too much tooth enamel is shaved, you could be at risk for tooth breakage.

Tooth contouring only realizes subtle changes. Unlike other cosmetic dental treatments, tooth contouring does not dramatically change your smile's appearance or make your teeth whiter. If you want to obtain a more noticeable smile makeover, dental veneers may be a better option. Cosmetic Contouring only eliminates small imperfections, while dental veneers cover the whole front tooth surface, giving teeth an entirely new look.

Alternatives to Cosmetic Contouring

There are various alternatives to cosmetic contouring, including the following:

  • Braces—dental braces are ideal for severely crooked and overlapping teeth that tooth contouring, Invisalign, or other more conservative dental treatments cannot fix.
  • Invisalign—Invisalign resembles dental braces since they straighten teeth. Even though dental braces can treat severe tooth misalignments, Invisalign works perfectly for gaps between teeth or minor overlapping.
  • Veneers—dental veneers are thin porcelain shells that fit over your teeth once the enamel is removed. Veneers are the best solution for patients with uneven teeth, worn-down enamel, or discolored teeth. Dental professionals may recommend teeth whitening alongside dental veneers if the teeth that need to undergo treatment with veneers are also stained.

Cosmetic Contouring, Along With Other Dental Treatments

Even though cosmetic contouring is usually a standalone treatment, it can be performed alongside other dental procedures. These procedures include:


Dental veneers are small, porcelain shells fitted over the outer surfaces of the teeth to fix dental problems like discoloration, tooth cracks, tooth misalignment, and chipping. Like cosmetic contouring, dental veneers assist in aligning and shaping teeth so they look attractive whenever you smile. Nevertheless, cosmetic contouring can be performed alongside veneers for excellent results. The procedure is necessary, especially when the top teeth have been veneered. Just slight shaping can significantly enhance the lower teeth's appearance, avoiding the expense or need for other dental veneers.

Teeth Whitening

Professional teeth whitening is a popular cosmetic dentistry treatment option. There are various ways of whitening teeth for everyone, based on their budget and specific needs. You can opt to undergo the procedure in a dental office, a cosmetic spa, or at home using an over-the-counter teeth whitening kit.

If you opt for teeth whitening, you will notice a significant improvement in your smile's appearance. A dental professional will perform cosmetic contouring alongside teeth whitening if your teeth are discolored or have uneven spots or stains that diminish the beauty of your smile. Because cosmetic contouring removes stains, tartar, and plaque, it can also be an alternative to teeth whitening to achieve a whiter smile.

Most people confuse teeth whitening with teeth bleaching. These two procedures differ because bleaching involves whitening teeth beyond their natural shade. Conversely, teeth whitening entails cleaning off debris and stains from teeth, restoring their natural surface.

Like cosmetic contouring, teeth whitening has some risks. You may have slight gum irritation after the procedure. Also, bleaching leads to high tooth sensitivity to cold or hot temperatures. Because dental professionals use plenty of bleaching agents on teeth, people who opt for in-office whitening usually experience sensitivity. Another risk is that the bleach utilized in the procedure could whiten the teeth beyond their original shade, leading to technicolor teeth.

Dental Braces

A tooth contouring procedure is not meant to be performed in place of dental braces. However, after the dental braces are removed, cosmetic contouring may be performed to correct minor problems with the teeth. Just slightly shaping the teeth when the braces have been removed further enhances the final results, making the tips look perfect.

Dental Bonding

Dental bonding entails the application of tooth-colored resin material to the damaged teeth to change their color, size, or shape. The procedure is ideal for closing gaps in teeth, repairing chipped or cracked teeth, and fixing worn-down tooth edges. However, the dental professional must prepare the teeth before applying the composite resin material.

Cosmetic contouring, which involves reshaping teeth, is one of the procedures dental professionals do before they proceed with dental bonding. Dental professionals recommend dental bonding as an esthetic way to correct minor misalignments or close gaps between teeth.

Dental professionals usually suggest tooth bonding when a single tooth or more is substantially longer than others, or the shape and size of teeth significantly vary. However, the procedure will be performed alongside cosmetic contouring to help with tooth reshaping.

Choosing the Best Cosmetic Dentist for the Tooth Contouring Procedure

One of the best ways to pick a good cosmetic dentist for treatment is through referrals. You can ask your family or general dentist to refer you to the best cosmetic dentist. Only a few dental professionals offer cosmetic contouring. If your dental professional does not, consider asking them to recommend a dental professional who does and can help you achieve the perfect smile you have longed for.

Find a Reliable Cosmetic Dentist Near Me

At Washington Dental, our highly trained cosmetic dentists, assistants, and staff work to transform smiles with quality services, expert cosmetic contouring, and a relaxing care experience if you are looking for odontoplasty.

Before starting the treatment, we will assess your situation to see whether cosmetic contouring suits you. If you are ready to improve your smile and want to see cosmetic contouring pictures before and after the procedure, call us today at 310-326-5183. We serve dental patients looking for these services in Lomita, CA.