Some people have more difficulty maintaining a high level of dental hygiene than others. It can sometimes be an issue with access, with your teeth simply being too close to each other. This means that your interproximal region (the space between your teeth) is too narrow for your toothbrush or dental floss. An inability to clean these portions of your teeth can result in increased susceptibility to decay and cavities. Fortunately, modern dentistry offers a few viable solutions.
A lack of interproximal space indicates overcrowding in the jaw. Overcrowding is when the amount of available jaw space along your upper or lower dental arch is insufficient to comfortably accommodate your teeth. This means that interproximal space is minimal or even absent. Severe overcrowding can make you a candidate for orthodontic treatment, whether this is traditional metal braces or a transparent alignment system (known as invisible braces). Orthodontic treatment can realign the teeth, creating adequate interproximal space in the process.
Orthodontic treatment may be the most suitable option for severe overcrowding, but when the problem isn't significant enough to warrant orthodontic intervention, your dentist can offer a solution. Interproximal reduction is when your dentist removes a small amount of dental enamel from the sides of the teeth with inadequate interproximal space. This manual reshaping of your teeth is actually remarkably straightforward.
Your Proximal Enamel
The anatomy of a human tooth means that enamel can be safely removed from the proximal edges of teeth without making the tooth more vulnerable. Enamel removal must always be approached with caution, in order to ensure that the tooth is left with a sufficient layer of enamel to protect itself from the corrosive agents it encounters on a daily basis. However, some 50% of proximal enamel can be removed without damaging your teeth. Using a small handheld bur, your dentist gently reshapes your teeth, narrowing their width and creating sufficient interproximal space to allow you to properly access these spaces when you clean your teeth. The process is not painful, although you may be given an anaesthetic to numb the site, as the vibrations caused by the dental bur can be mildly uncomfortable for some patients.
The creation of adequate interproximal space can be a game-changer for keeping your teeth in the best possible shape. If the frustration of trying to thread dental floss between your teeth has become too much, you might want to ask your dentist if you're a suitable candidate for interproximal reduction.
To learn more about dentistry, talk to a dentist in your area.