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FAQ:  Orthodontics - Children - Teens

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Shaving teeth for braces? My son is a candidate for brace due to lower overcrowding, some upper turned teeth and a slight overbite.

We've gone to two orthodontists with very different treatment ideas. The prices vary from 4500 to 5500.

The first suggested shaving several lower back teeth and 18 months of braces. The second suggests 27 months and may have suggested expanding. I am extremely wary of teeth shaving.

My son and I grind our teeth already and probably need all the enamel we've got. Is shaving teeth a good standard? ...Visitor from NM

The tooth shaving you are referring to is called Interproximal Tooth Reduction (IPR).

The amount of enamel removed is around .5-1.0 mm. This is negligible considering there is approximately 3-4mm of enamel on either side of each tooth.

I do this on a routine basis and it works beautifully. This process of enamel shaving used to occur naturally along time ago when most of the food was unprocessed and contained fine particles of sand mixed into what we ate on a daily basis.

These fine particles of sand would work themselves in between our teeth and would naturally reduce their width.

I was fortunate to attend LSU orthodontic program for my residency and train with the clinical orthodontist who did the majority of research on Interproximal Tooth Reduction ...Dr. Jack Sheridan. You can google his name and find an abundant amount of information on this topic.

The orthodontist that recommended IPR and 18 months of treatment is good and knows exactly what he is talking about. If the overbite is mild than there is no reason to spend any longer in treatment than about 18-24 months. You are going to get a natural expansion from the braces themselves as your child goes through treatment and if he needs some additional space IPR is an excellent way to alleviate crowding without removing teeth.

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