Interproximal Reduction

Interproximal reduction is a procedure in which a dentist strips off a portion of tooth enamel in order to reduce the size of the tooth. The tooth that the procedure is performed on would normally be touching another tooth, if the teeth were in proper alignment. Interproximal reduction can help create optimal tooth alignment by widening the space in between teeth slightly. The term interproximal reduction was made popular by Invisalign, but it is also sometimes referred to as “Air Rotor Stripping,” “tooth stripping,” or “interdental reduction.”

When Is Interproximal Reduction Used?

Interproximal reduction is used when tooth crowding is an issue that needs to be addressed. After the tooth is slenderized, the patient’s teeth can be aligned with fewer complications. Orthodontists will carefully consider a patient’s facial and mouth structure and specific orthodontic issues to decide whether an orthodontic reduction is the best option for creating space between the teeth.

Benefits of Interproximal Reduction

There are other procedures that can help to create space in between teeth, such as palatal expansion, tooth extraction, or orthodontic surgery. Interproximal reduction can help patients retain all of their teeth and avoid painful and unnecessary surgeries. In cases where patients have abnormally shaped teeth or “black triangles” between the teeth caused by missing gum tissue, interproximal reduction can reduce the appearance of these issues and improve the look of the patient’s teeth and smile. Interproximal reduction also allows the teeth to retain more stability than other procedures that move the teeth, which may help the teeth stay in alignment longer with less orthodontic work.

Interproximal Reduction Procedure

Orthodontists may use a diamond-coated strip or a dental drill to strip away the tooth enamel. If a large amount of tooth needs to be stripped away, the dental drill will be used. If a small amount of enamel needs to be stripped or the area that needs to be stripped is irregular in shape, the diamond-coated strip may be used. Diamond-coated strips are flexible and are used by placing the strip on the side of the tooth and moving it back and forth to manually strip away the enamel. This allows greater precision than dental drills.

Is Interproximal Reduction Painful?

The interproximal reduction procedure is not painful, but may be slightly uncomfortable. No anesthetic is required, but patients will feel the tool moving between the teeth to remove enamel. The procedure does not require downtime afterwards and is much easier to recover from than most other methods used to create space in between the teeth.

Many jaw and tooth problems can be corrected with braces or other orthodontic tools and procedures. However, more severe complications may require orthodontic surgery to correct. Also called orthognathic surgery or corrective jaw surgery, orthodontic surgery can be useful in correcting conditions that are caused by congenital deformities, injuries, and developmental issues.

Orthodontic Surgery Lee Vista, FL

Orthodontic Surgery Indications

Jaw, ear, and head pain can all be indicators of abnormalities in the jaw structure that may require surgery to correct. If regular jaw functions such as eating, breathing, or speaking cause pain or are difficult, these factors may also indicate the need for orthodontic surgery. These issues should be discussed with an orthodontist in order to determine the need for surgery and pinpoint the exact cause. Orthodontists may not perform the diagnostic tests necessary to catch certain conditions if not alerted to these pain sensations.

Visible Indications

In some cases, there may be visible indications that surgery is necessary. A receding chin or dominant overbite may indicate skeletal malformations that require surgery to correct. Correcting these conditions can help to boost confidence and can have emotional benefits as well as medical and cosmetic benefits.

Diagnosing Conditions Requiring Surgery

Assessing the need for orthodontic surgery is not always simple or straight forward. Collaboration between an orthodontist, dentist, and an oral surgeon is often the best approach, as braces may be required to successfully complete the correction, and other factors such as tooth health may come into play. Diagnostic tests such as x-rays may be used to determine the extent of the problem and identify the most effective surgical and procedural options.

Orthodontic Surgery Considerations

Depending on the condition that will be corrected using surgery, patients and orthodontists may have to take certain factors into consideration prior to surgery. These factors include subsequent or preliminary surgeries and procedures that may be necessary and patient appearance following surgery. There is software available that can allow patients to view projected results of orthodontic surgery, and this may help to determine whether braces or cosmetic surgery will be needed following surgery. Patients may also need to consider overall cost factors and plan accordingly for all eventualities. If orthodontic surgery is undergone and follow-up procedures are avoided, the desired results may not be achieved.

Conditions Corrected Using Orthodontic Surgery

There are many different conditions that can be corrected using orthodontic surgery, including but not limited to:
  • Tooth impaction
  • Tooth decay and abscess
  • Jaw misalignment
  • Cleft palate
  • Sleep apnea
  • Certain types of oral cancer
  • TMJ disorders