Tooth crowding is a fairly common problem which, in the past, left orthodontists with little option but to extract those unwanted teeth to create the space needed to realign the crooked culprits and create that perfect smile.

Thankfully, these days, there is another safe and effective option, which is way less drastic! Usually combined with Invisalign or braces, orthodontists can now treat over-crowding with interproximal reduction (IPR).

In IPR, the orthodontist uses a dental drill or specialized sanding strips to accurately remove a maximum of 0.5 mm of the outer surface of the tooth, known as the enamel, between the teeth. This technique is used to make space for crowded teeth or to change the size of specific teeth to improve the bite, and is the safest and most effective way of aligning teeth without actually extracting the teeth.

Filing my teeth back… wait, WHAT?


Will I lose enamel? Will my pearly whites still look the same?

Yes, you will lose a small amount of enamel between the teeth, but fear not… it is safe!  A tooth has two layers (enamel and dentin) – the enamel being the hard part and the dentin the soft part. There is an average of 2.5 mm of enamel thickness between each tooth, therefore having 0.25 mm stripped away is completely safe.

Is this going to hurt?

No! IPR does NOT hurt! Numbing is not even required! Enamel does not have any nerve sensation, so it is completely painless.

Therefore, when an orthodontist tells you, you need IPR – don’t fear! It is a routine method used to help align teeth, create better esthetics and a better bite.  If you don’t believe me, I did it to myself!