How "Dangerous" is It to Have my Overlarge 2 Front Teeth Filed Down?

I have overlarge front teeth. The teeth surrounding them are all normal sized and well-placed; my 2 front teeth don't simply appear overlarge because the teeth next to them are too high. I asked my dentist if he could file them down, and he said yes. When I went online for information, I saw a number of hysterical warnings about how filing leads to horrible permanent sensitivity, tooth decay, etc. But my sister had hers filed with no issues. How safe is filing? How much filing is too much?

Doctor Answers 11

Can teeth be filed down ?

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Please post a photo for more accurate response.

Generally teeth  should not be filed down randomly . Without seeing a photo, it is hard to answer your question. Minimal filing ( 1mm) is OK under certain circumstances, but not always. Just because your sister is doing OK, does not guarantee you will, and god forbid she may feel sensitivity in the future. Never compare your dental condition good or bad with any one else's. No two people are the same when it comes to the make of teeth, and bite and head and neck anatomy.

Orange County Dentist

How "Dangerous" is It to Have my Overlarge 2 Front Teeth Filed Down?

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Teeth can appear large if they are either misplaced or the teeth next to them are small or placed higher.

The dentist should suggest orthodontics if necessary but many times the adjacent smaller teeth can be built up or the large teeth reduced by up to 1mm in length. 

Crowded or rotated teeth should be moved and Invisalign is a great technique to use.

Cutting down too much can cause nerve damage and a root canal treatment required.

Filing teeth-Risks and Prevention

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There are definite risks to filing teeth indiscriminately.  It is important to look at the teeth and see how much enamal is left on the outside and where trimming will take place.  Sometimes there is absolutely no risk and sometimes sensitivity can result.  It is definitely an individual decision for each person.  Talk to your dentist and have him review this or get a second opinion from another dentist.  It sounds like other teeth may also not be in their proper position in the front of your mouth.  You may want to consider Invisalign clear tray orthodontics to line your teeth up before you adjust them and the trimming can even be a part of the Invisalign treatment and also require significantly less filing to be done.  If your dentist does Invisalign (or can refer you to a specialist that does), have your dentist get an Invisalign proposal called a clincheck which will show you the end result before you do anything.  Good luck!

How "Dangerous" is It to Have my Front Teeth Filed Down?

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Thanks Lynn for your great question. We do file teeth down from time to time for many reasons. I would not recommend to file them done more then 0.5  mm unless something permanent  is being planed to  place over them. 0.5mm is considered safe and predictable assuming there is no wear of the teeth in the first place. 

Filing your teeth to make them smaller

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So long as a competent dentist is following proper procedure, we have the ability to make many adjustments within the first layer of the tooth (the enamel layer) without dramatically affecting the strength of the tooth.

Sometimes we need to make larger adjustments to make the teeth appear normal or nice.  If this happens we can seal the adjusted area and make the sensitivity disappear for life.

If your not happy or you negatively focus on the size of your teeth obsessively, the mental relief you'll experience from filing your front teeth to resizing them will far outweigh the damage your doing to your tooth enamel.  There's A LOT of enamel in most front teeth !

:) Dr. C

Thomas Connelly, DDS
Beverly Hills Dentist
5.0 out of 5 stars 14 reviews

Discretion of the Doc

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Hello!  How much is "too much" is a clinical judgement call of the doc doing it.  There are several layers of the tooth structure - enamel and dentin.   Technically, as long the adjustment stays in the enamel you will have no sensitivity.  Enamel contouring is one the easiest / fastest / best treatments in cosmetic dentistry for obtaining esthetic changes.   I recommend doing it if you are unhappy with your teeth shape / proportion!

Shortening front teeth

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It is very common for dentists to reshape the edges of patients' front teeth to improve the cosmetic alignment. This is called enameloplasty.  Generally speaking it is safe to remove up to 1 mm of tooth enamel without harming the teeth assuming no sensitivity is felt during the procedure.  If sensitivity is felt, the tooth reduction should be stopped.  Understand, enameloplasty is done for minor changes to improve the cosmetic appearance of the teeth.  Should large change be needed, alternative treatment should be considered.

Daniel Melnick, DDS
Laurel Dentist

Most likely not a problem

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Most teeth have 1.5 millimeters of enamel over the underlying layer, dentin.  This is the layer that may have some nerve sensitivity. When we adjust to recontour teeth, we may reduce .5 millimeters at most. Usually microns.  Not a big deal.

Shortening My Front it "dangerous"?

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This is not dangerous at all.  Reshaping teeth is a common cosmetic dental procedure that has been done for decades.  It's called "enameloplasty" or "cosmetic enamel recontouring".  It is generally so safe and comfortable to do that it can be done without any local anesthetic (novocaine).  If the tooth is sensitive afterwards, several of the tooth desensitizer treatment can be used, like the ones for people with cold sensitive teeth, or for those who have temporarily sensitive teeth after bleaching.

What we typically do is discuss with patient ahead of time where and how much to smooth off.  Then we use a sharpie marking pen to mark the teeth where we plan on doing the enameloplasty.  When we get agreement, we start, either by using small sand paper disks or polishing diamonds.  If the patient gets sensitive at any time, we stop the procedure. 

One of my front teeth was longer than the other.  "Once upon a time" (ha, ha, I did this a long time ago) at the end of the day I took out my dental drill and shortened my tooth myself using a dental drill and a hand mirror to see how I was  doing. 

However, all my comments refer to enamel reshaping of a mild to moderate nature.  If you end up needing adjustment through and below the outside enamel layer, then I would not advise unless you are then going to cover that layer with composite bonding, porcelain veneer or porcelain crown.

Norman Huefner, DDS
Laguna Niguel Dentist

Can You File Down Long Front Teeth?

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You would certainly be fine having your dentist shorten your front teeth, but it is hard to tell you exactly how much without a picture or exam.  Each individuals enamel and bite is different and these both determine how much enamel can be removed safely.  Find a local dentist and have them discuss your options with you.  Good luck. 

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.