A brighter smile can boost your confidence, but not all whitening treatments contribute to oral health. If having aesthetically pleasing teeth is your goal, consider a professional teeth whitening option, like enamel microabrasion.
What is Enamel Microabrasion?
Enamel microabrasion is a permanent cosmetic dentistry treatment that removes discolorations from the tooth surface. Yellow and brown spots on the tooth are often decalcification stains caused by a buildup of sugar and acids that weaken enamel. This procedure is typically done to improve the appearance of teeth staining due to enamel defects that occur during tooth development or from fluorosis.
How it Works
The microabrasion process is fairly simple and isn’t quite as invasive as it sounds. The simple operation is a three-step process:
- The teeth need to be isolated from the rest of the mouth to not catch the gums or damage any other parts of your soft tissue.
- The microabrasion tool removals discolored enamel while carefully guided by the dental professional. After the discoloration is removed, the teeth are polished with an acid abrasion slurry.
- The teeth are cleaned and rinsed.
Your smile will be noticeably whiter, and you’ll be able to keep it that way by taking care of your teeth in the future. After all, the best way to ensure that your teeth stay white is by using proper dental hygiene and being careful about what you eat.
Is Enamel Microabrasion Healthy?
Ideally, you won’t need to undergo an enamel microabrasion treatment because you’ve successfully and consistently tried to protect your teeth from plaque and other buildups. Enamel microabrasion can be better for your teeth than other whitening methods since the procedure does not require harsh chemicals.
With a microabrasion technique, you’ll receive a brighter smile that lasts a significant amount of time. Studies have shown that enamel microabrasion doesn’t hurt your teeth. This non-invasive treatment only removes micro-layers of enamel to ensure as much protection as possible remains. The whitening effects of enamel microabrasion are effective and long-lasting, and your dentist can determine if you’re a candidate for the treatment.
Enamel Microabrasion Before and After
Before Treatment. Enamel microabrasion whitens teeth with mechanical dental tools rather than harsh chemicals. A dental professional may recommend the treatment for people with discolored teeth from drinking coffee, poor oral hygiene, genetics, or dental fluorosis. According to the World Journal of Clinical Cases, dental fluorosis produces opaque white areas or yellow to dark brown discolorations with porosities on the enamel surface. If you experience mineralized white stains and surface irregularities on your teeth, contact your dental professional to see if enamel microabrasion is the correct treatment.
After Treatment. Once the procedure is complete, the surface of the protective enamel will appear radiant, shiny, and glass-like. People who participate in enamel microabrasion can experience a smoother tooth surface which helps to reduce bacterial colonization resulting in a potentially decreased risk of tooth decay.
What Happens in an Enamel Microabrasion Procedure?
The treatment for enamel microabrasion is usually quick and painless, though some teeth sensitivity may occur in the first 24 hours. Your dental professional will likely use a mechanical rotating device called a prophy cup to grind down the teeth instead of whitening them with harsh chemicals. A typical enamel microabrasion procedure can involve the following steps:
- The teeth are isolated from the gums with a rubber dam.
- Acidic and abrasive agents are applied to the teeth as a paste.
- Your dental professional will gently scrub the paste with a prophy cup to remove discoloration and layers of stains.
- The paste is suctioned and then rinsed from the teeth.
- To further blend the color of the teeth, your clinician may give you take-home whitening.
Limitations of Enamel Microabrasion
Enamel Microabrasion can dramatically enhance a person’s smile by harmonizing the tooth color. It always works; however, it cannot completely eliminate white/yellow/brown areas where the discoloration is more deeply ingrained. There is no way of knowing precisely how deep the discoloration goes and, therefore, how much improvement there will be. It will at least reduce the size of the ingrained area and so the appearance will always be better. Enamel Microabrasion is a conservative and superficial procedure that does not harm the enamel. Removing deeper discoloration would damage the enamel and require a filling to repair the damage.
Downsides of Enamel Microabrasion
One of the biggest downsides to enamel microabrasion is that it doesn’t always perfectly whiten your teeth. In some cases, the yellowing on teeth goes significantly deeper than just the surface area where enamel microabrasion reaches. In those cases, you may need something more intrusive to whiten your teeth further and get rid of enamel stains. If your teeth are more discolored, then you are often recommended not to choose microabrasion. On the other hand, if your enamel is only slightly discolored and you only need a minor whitening procedure, then you’ll likely find a lot of luck in using microabrasion on your teeth.
How Long Does an Enamel Microabrasion Procedure Take?
An enamel microabrasion procedure occurs in one appointment and should take no more than an hour to complete. Multiple appointments for this procedure are not standard practice.
Knowing the safe options for teeth whitening is vital. Enamel microabrasion is minimally invasive and a great solution for people with mineralized spots on their teeth. Speak with a dental professional to see if enamel microabrasion is the best treatment to help give you the smile you love.