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Suppose you’re an Invisalign patient, and your dentist is considering carrying out a procedure on your teeth called Interproximal Reduction (IPR). In that case, you may have some questions you would like answered before you decide to go ahead! Read on for our most frequently asked questions.

What is interproximal reduction?

Interproximal reduction, also known as interdental enamel reduction, slenderizing, stripping, selective enamel reduction and enamel reproximation, is the mechanical removal of some of the outer tooth surface, called enamel, between teeth. It is possible to reduce the width of certain teeth by up to ½ mm. the space created by interdental reduction can then be used to straighten teeth.

Why do I need Interproximal reduction?

Your dentist needs to gain enough space to straighten your teeth with Invisalign and improve your bite. If the space required is small, then it can be achieved by interproximal reduction of several teeth. This could avoid the need for extracting teeth. It can also be done to reshape teeth.

How is interproximal reduction done?

The enamel is removed by using either:

  • a fine dental bur
  • a disc in a dental handpiece (drill) or
  • by hand with an abrasive strip (file)

How long does the interproximal reduction procedure take?

Interproximal reduction takes only a few minutes and can be done in a single visit or spread over several visits.

Does it hurt?

No. Enamel is the material that makes up the outer shell of our teeth. It does not contain any nerves, and so no discomfort is felt. As only a very thin layer of enamel is removed, no anaesthetic is required. You may, however, feel a strange pulling/pushing pressure during the procedure.

Sometimes, to make some temporary space between teeth beforehand, small rubber rings called separators are placed between the teeth a week before the interproximal reduction procedure is carried out to move the teeth apart slightly

Are my teeth more likely to decay if the enamel is removed?

No. The dentist will only remove the minimum amount of enamel required to get your teeth straight. After that, each tooth will be left with enough enamel to continue to remain healthy and sound. Studies have shown that the decay rates of teeth with interproximal reduction are no higher than normal teeth. In addition, your dentist may coat the teeth in a temporary fluoride varnish after the procedure to help the enamel repair itself. You may also be advised to use an alcohol-free mouth rinse to help keep the enamel strong.

Will my teeth be painful?

No. Some patients, however, may experience some temporary sensitivity to hot or cold foods and drinks, but this usually returns to normal within a few days.

Will it give me gum disease?

No. The procedure does not make your teeth more at risk for gum disease. However, you need to keep your teeth and gums clean and healthy throughout your orthodontic treatment.

What are the possible risks of interproximal reduction?

Plaque can collect more readily on teeth with an interproximal reduction if the tooth surface is not smoothed and polished by the dentist afterwards.

Is there a chance that my treatment won’t be successful?

For Invisalign orthodontic treatment to be successful, you will need to be committed to your treatment. You will need to attend regularly and look after your teeth and brace.

As a general rule, patients who cooperate well with treatment get good results, whilst those who do not cooperate will get poor results. For example, if your brace breaks repeatedly or you do not keep your teeth clean, treatment may be stopped, leaving your teeth in a worse position than when you started.

Are there any other risks?

There may be other rare risks that could affect you. These will be explained to you in greater detail by your dentist.

If you have any further questions that you feel you would like to ask, please write them down and bring them to your next appointment. It is essential that you fully understand what is involved in having Invisalign orthodontic treatment before deciding to go ahead. Otherwise, feel free to phone your nearest Ascent Dental Care practice, and a member of our team will be glad to assist in your enquiry.