How to file teeth?


What Does Recontouring Involve?

Initial exam

To determine if you are an appropriate candidate for recontouring, your dentist may first take an X-ray of your teeth to determine the size and location of the tooth’s pulp (the center of the tooth that contains the nerves and blood vessels). If the tooth’s enamel layer is too thin or if the pulp lies too close to the tooth’s surface, recontouring may not be possible and another procedure – such as bonding or veneers – might need to be considered instead.

The procedure

At your appointment, your dentist will use a sanding disc or a fine diamond bur to remove small amounts of tooth enamel. To reach imperfections between teeth, your dentist may use a strip of sandpaper to shape and smooth the sides. Once shaped, your dentist will finish the process by polishing your tooth or teeth.

Since recontouring does not affect the pulp of the tooth, an anesthetic is not usually needed.

Follow up

A recontouring procedure that is not combined with other cosmetic procedures (such as bonding or veneer placement) does not require special care or follow-up.

What Causes Crooked Teeth and How to Straighten Them

If you’ve decided that straightening your teeth is the right choice for you, there are several alternatives you can discuss with a dentist or orthodontist.

Braces are a great option for people of any age, provided that their teeth and gums are strong enough to hold them. Braces may be an especially good choice for children, who still have malleable, flexible gums and bone tissues.

Treatment can take anywhere between two to three years depending on the type of braces you choose, and what you need to have done. Teeth-straightening surgery is another option to consider, and typically takes less time to achieve desired results.

Read on to learn about the different types of braces you can choose from, as well as surgical options.

Metal braces

Fixed metal braces are attached to the teeth with brackets, bands, and flexible wire. These braces may be a better choice for someone with more complex dental alignment issues.

Sometimes, headgear is required in addition to fixed braces. Headgear is typically only worn at night.

Metal braces have come a long way since their early days. They now use smaller brackets and less metal. They’re also more comfortable than they used to be. They even come with multicolored rubber bands that you can choose to match your personality.

According to Authority Dental, metal braces typically cost between $3,000 and $7,500 depending on the amount of work you need done, where you live, and whether you have an insurance plan that will help cover costs.

Ceramic braces

Ceramic braces and the archwires that connect them are clear or tooth-colored so they don’t stand out as much as metal brackets.

The straightening process is the same as metal brackets, although ceramic brackets are prone to staining and break easily. They also cost a bit more — between $3,500 and $8,000 — depending on your location, the work needed, and your insurance coverage.

Invisible braces

Invisible braces, such as Invisalign, are nearly invisible. They’re meant to be worn by teens and adults only.

The clear plastic aligners are custom-made to fit your mouth. They fit over each tooth like a mouth guard, and are removed and replaced twice monthly. This option isn’t recommended for severe tooth alignment correction.

Invisible braces may also take longer to straighten teeth than traditional braces. They cost between $3,500 and $8,500, depending on what needs to be done, your location, and your insurance coverage.

Many providers of this treatment allow for monthly payment plan options. The Invisalign product is also eligible to be purchased with tax-free health-savings account dollars.

Lingual braces

The lingual surface is the side of your teeth that faces your tongue. Lingual braces are another form of invisible braces. They’re similar to traditional metal braces except that they attach to the back sides of your teeth.

Lingual braces aren’t for everyone. They’re expensive, costing between $5,000 and $13,000, and hard to clean. They’re also not typically recommended for severely misaligned or crooked teeth. These types of braces may take longer to work, and be harder to get used to wearing.

Teeth-straightening surgery

Surgical procedures for straightening teeth are another option. They may be a way to lessen the amount of time you need to wear braces.

Your orthodontist might suggest a minor surgical procedure designed to reposition the bones and gums that help hold your teeth in place.

They might also recommend a more involved procedure designed to realign your jaw. This is called orthognathic surgery. This type of surgery might be recommended if your teeth have affected your speech or chewing ability.

Your out-of-pocket cost for these procedure will be determined by the type of surgery you have, your location, and your health insurance.

Tooth Reshaping and Dental Contouring

Do you have a minor defect in your pearly whites that you’d like to erase? Seeing your dentist about tooth reshaping, also called dental contouring, could be the answer.

“Tooth reshaping and dental contouring are cosmetic dentistry procedures that deal with subtle changes to the teeth,” says Kimberly Harms, DDS, consumer advisor and spokesperson for the American Dental Association. “But sometimes little changes can make a big difference.”

Imperfections or problems like slightly overlapping or irregularly shaped teeth, tiny chips in the teeth, or excessively pointy cuspids, can often be fixed with a little tooth reshaping and dental contouring.

What Is Tooth Reshaping?

Tooth reshaping, also called dental contouring, is a cosmetic dentistry technique that removes small amounts of tooth enamel (the outer covering of the tooth) in order to change the shape, length, or surface of one or more teeth. “Even a few millimeters of reduction in the right places can really improve the appearance of teeth,” says Dr. Harms, who has a private dental practice in Farmington, Minn. The process is often combined with bonding, a cosmetic dentistry treatment that uses tooth-colored composite material to sculpt and shape the teeth.

What’s Involved in Tooth Reshaping and Dental Contouring?

Tooth reshaping is performed using dental instruments and abrasion techniques. Dental X-rays may be taken before the reshaping and contouring begin to ensure that your teeth are healthy. Your dentist will then mark your teeth with a pen to highlight areas that need sculpting. A sanding instrument is used to artfully eliminate or minimize imperfections on the surface of the teeth, and sandpaper-like strips may be used to contour the sides of the teeth. Finally, the teeth are smoothed and polished.

Pros and Cons of Tooth Reshaping and Contouring

Although reshaping and contouring are conservative approaches to changing the appearance of your teeth, it’s still important to weigh the pros and cons of these procedures to see if they’re right for you.

Advantages of tooth reshaping and dental contouring:

  • Cost. This is an inexpensive way to improve the look of your teeth. The procedure generally costs $50 to $300 per tooth, depending on how much work is needed. If the defect occurred due to trauma or an accident, your insurance may pick up some of the cost, says Harms.
  • Painless. Because only surface enamel is removed in tooth reshaping and dental contouring, there’s generally no discomfort during the procedure and no anesthesia is required.
  • Improves health of teeth. Removing minor overlaps and other imperfections where tartar and plaque can build up lowers your risk of decay and gum disease.
  • Possible substitute for braces. In some situations, tooth reshaping and dental contouring can substitute for braces since they make teeth look a little straighter and eliminate minor overlapping.

Disadvantages of tooth reshaping and dental contouring:

  • Subtle change. Unlike some cosmetic dentistry treatments, tooth reshaping and dental contouring will not dramatically change the look of your smile or make your teeth look whiter. For a more noticeable smile makeover, you may want to go with veneers. Tooth reshaping and dental contouring only eliminate small imperfections, whereas veneers cover the entire front surface of the teeth, giving them a completely new look.
  • Risk of tooth damage. Depending on how much enamel is removed during tooth reshaping and dental contouring, teeth can become sensitive afterwards. And if too much enamel is removed, you can be at risk for tooth breakage.

Are Tooth Reshaping and Dental Contouring Right for You?

Tooth reshaping and dental contouring are best for people who just need tiny adjustments or repairs to improve the look and feel of their teeth. “It’s ideal for someone who has a tooth that is a little crooked, too pointy, or one side sticks out more than the other,” says Harms. However, dental reshaping and contouring are not appropriate for people with decaying teeth, root canals, or unhealthy gums.

Sometimes tooth reshaping and dental contouring are the first steps toward more extensive cosmetic dentistry work. Procedures such as veneers, tooth whitening, and crown lengthening can be performed months or even years after tooth reshaping and contouring.

But if you want to avoid the time and expense of major cosmetic dentistry, tooth reshaping and dental contouring could be just the ticket to a better smile.

Tooth Contouring and Reshaping

Tooth contouring or reshaping is a cosmetic dental procedure also referred to as odontoplasty, stripping or slenderizing. It is also known as enameloplasty since it involves removing small amounts of the tooth’s enamel to alter the appearance of its shape, length or surface. Tooth contouring and reshaping can fix a range of dental issues including chipped, cracked or crooked teeth.

Who Benefits from Tooth Contouring and Reshaping?

Tooth contouring and reshaping fixes minor imperfections in most patients while providing an improved smile and better oral hygiene. Patients who want straighter and more evenly shaped teeth can benefit by trimming slightly overlapping teeth, reducing the length of a tooth and correcting irregularly shaped teeth. Patients with bumps or pits in the enamel, as well as patients with overlapping teeth, can improve their overall dental health with tooth contouring as it also addresses plaque and tartar in these areas. Tooth contouring is limited to minor aesthetics since removing too much enamel can cause the teeth to become weak. Patients with a thin enamel layer may not be good candidates for this procedure. These patients may be better candidates for another procedure such as bonding or veneers.

How Is Contouring and Reshaping Performed?

An initial exam will be necessary to determine if the patient is an ideal candidate. The dentist will take X-rays to determine the size and location of the tooth’s pulp. If the teeth are healthy enough, and fit the criteria, the dentist will schedule the treatment. Tooth contouring and reshaping can take as little as 30 minutes depending on the amount of work needed. The dentist will mark the teeth with a pencil or pen to highlight the areas which need sculptured. Since the enamel is mostly made up of minerals, and there are no underlying blood vessels or nerves, there is no feeling in this layer. Therefore, no pain medications or numbing agents are necessary. The dentist uses several tools, such as a sanding drill with a fine diamond bur or a laser, to gradually remove small amounts of surface enamel. Fractured or chipped teeth are smoothed out and specific edges are rounded or squared. Abrasive strips are used between the teeth to shape and smooth the sides. After the bite is checked for proper alignment, the dentist will smooth and polish the teeth. The results provide the patient with a more uniform appearance and less crowded teeth. Patients can maintain the results by brushing at least twice a day, flossing daily and maintaining regular dental checkups.

Pros and Cons

Anytime a patient undergoes cosmetic dentistry, there are some pros and cons. It is important for each patient to consider whether or not the pros outweigh the cons of a procedure. In order to make an educated decision, patients should consult with a cosmetic dentist who is certified by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. Here are some of the most common pros and cons of tooth contouring and reshaping:


  • Tooth contouring is a conservative method for altering the appearance of the teeth
  • It is painless
  • No recovery or downtime is needed after tooth contouring and reshaping
  • The average cost is between $50 to $300 per tooth and insurance may cover a portion of the cost if the imperfection is due to an accident or trauma
  • Removing imperfections can lower the risk of decay and gum disease from tartar and plaque buildup


  • Teeth may become temporarily sensitive to hot and cold substances after contouring and reshaping
  • Contouring and reshaping is limited to subtle or minor changes
  • If too much enamel is removed, it can put the patient at risk for tooth breakage or decay
  • If the problem was originally due to grinding, a recurrence of the initial problem may occur with continual grinding

Can Be Combined With Dental Bonding

Tooth contouring and reshaping can boost confidence while providing a healthier mouth and a self-assured smile. Dental bonding can be performed along with contouring when a tooth requires more work than contouring will allow. Contouring and bonding are two of the most popular cosmetic dentistry options since they are not time-consuming and are more affordable than other treatments.


Small Adult Teeth Treatment Options

Non-Invasive, No Prep Porcelain Veneers

With non-invasive porcelain veneers, the sizes of her teeth would be increased, and the gaps would be closed. She would have a much wider smile and better support for her lips and face. The porcelain veneers were designed and angled properly to maximize her smile and support her lips for years to come. If the patient needed bite correction, VENLAY® Restorations are vastly superior because they are designed to correct overbites, underbites and reverse the effects of aging at the source.

No Shots, No Drilling, and Done Very Quickly

To make her smile something that she could feel confident about, Dr. Muslin recommended veneers for her upper teeth and whitening for her lower teeth. Because her healthy teeth were too small there was no reason to grind down or changed the natural teeth in any way. Dr. Muslin took a non-invasive approach and there was no drilling, no shots, no needles and no grinding at all. By making small teeth look bigger by filling in the gaps, this patient was able to save her healthy tooth structure.

Porcelain Veneers and VENLAY® Bite Restoration

With over 30 years of dental experience doing braces, porcelain veneers, and full mouth reconstructions, Dr. Muslin has a rare understanding of how both orthodontics, bite correction, facial analysis, VENLAY® Restorations, and porcelain veneers could benefit his patients. His extensive experience with all age groups and facial types give him the ability to choose the best non-invasive cosmetic dentistry, and the best non-invasive bite correction dentistry for his Face Lift Dentistry® patients. His work is well documented with one of the country’s largest porcelain veneer, full mouth reconstruction and Face Lift Dentistry® before and after photo and video galleries.

All of the photos shown are Dr. Muslin’s actual patients, and none of the photos have been touched up or altered in any way. The quality and honesty of his work are just one of the reasons why he was awarded by the International College of Dentists and is a Master of the Academy of General Dentistry.

Closing Gaps and Re-sizing Teeth that are Too Small

She did not like her smile! Her teeth had spaces between them, and they were way too small. She even had broken edges that had chipped over time. If she had undergone braces, which would have squeezed all the little teeth together, her smile would be way too narrow, and the teeth would still be far too small. Veneers are very good for her situation and none of her healthy teeth needed to be drilled down and she did not even need a shot! But, if bite correction is needed, particularly on worn-down teeth, small teeth and misaligned jaws, then VENLAY® Bite Restorations are the treatment of choice.

New Shapes, New Color and New Teeth Angles

Also, her teeth had a square and flat shape that made them look like baby teeth. With non-invasive porcelain veneers, the contours and locations of the teeth cannot be moved so the dentist must be able to manage the sizes, shapes, angles, and contours of the veneers to appear as natural as possible. The goal was to make her small teeth look bigger with an incredible smile.

3 Affordable Dentistry Options to Fix Your Smile and Boost Your Confidence

How your smile looks plays a big role in how you feel about yourself and how you think others perceive you. As the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD) notes, about 74 percent of people believe that an unattractive smile can get in the way of career success and nearly 100 percent of people believe a smile is an important social asset.

You may not like showing off your smile if you think your teeth are too yellow, crooked or chipped. Fortunately, you have a number of affordable dentistry options that can help improve your smile and boost your confidence. At your next visit, talk to your dentist about ways to correct any issues with your teeth and how much you can expect each option to cost.

1. Get Your Teeth Whitened

People’s teeth yellow or become darker for a variety of reasons. It could be due to a diet of foods that stain, such as coffee, chocolate and berries. It could be due to the enamel becoming thinner as you age and the yellower dentin showing through. Some people are born with teeth that are naturally yellow or slightly gray. If you decide you do want to whiten your teeth, you have multiple options, ranging from at-home treatments to treatments performed at your dentist’s office.

The cost of teeth whitening varies based on location and the type of product used. As the Consumer Guide to Dentistry points out, an in-office treatment costs an average of $650.

At-home treatments tend to be the more affordable dentistry option, but the results you get from an in-office treatment are often much more dramatic and last longer. For example, the AACD points out that an in-office whitening treatment can lighten your teeth up to 10 shades in one hour, and the results can last for a year or longer, provided you take good care of your teeth. After a tooth whitening procedure, it’s a good time to switch to a whitening toothpaste, such as Colgate® Optic White® to maintain your dazzling teeth.

2. Fix Chips and Cracks with Bonding

If you have a chipped or cracked tooth, or a tooth that needs a filling, dental bonding is often an affordable way to fix it. Dental bonding is typically made of either a composite resin or porcelain. The material can be dyed to match the natural color of your teeth, so you end up with a tooth that looks good as new and no one will be able to tell that you’ve had work done.

Bonding is one of the least expensive dental restoration options, too. While porcelain veneers can cost up to $1,500 per tooth, the average cost of dental bonding is $300 to $600 per tooth. The drawback of bonding is that it might not last as long as veneers, which are used to correct severely discolored or chipped teeth. If you are looking for a budget-friendly way to correct a damaged tooth, bonding may be the way to go.

3. Use a Retainer to Straighten Teeth
Not everyone with crooked or misaligned teeth needs braces. Typically, people wear retainers after they have braces removed to keep their teeth from moving out of position. But, if you have a small space between two teeth or your bite is slightly misaligned, you might be able to wear a retainer without getting braces.

An aligner, a clear plastic tray that fits over the teeth and helps push them into place or straighten them, can be another alternative to braces. Aligners are more expensive than retainers (for example, Invisalign® can cost between $3,000 and $8,000 while a retainer on its own typically costs between $500 and $1,000, as the Consumer Dentistry Guide notes). But, aligners do a lot more than retainers when it comes to correcting crooked teeth, which can make the higher cost worth it.

If you’re not happy with your smile, you don’t have to live with it! Schedule an appointment with your dentist today and learn more about what you can do to fix your smile.


Mini Smile Makeover at The Harley Street Smile Clinic, London.


Tooth contouring – say what? You’ll be glad to hear that this doesn’t involve blending any foundation into your teeth. Tooth contouring is part of the Mini Smile Makeover at The Harley Street Smile Clinic. It’s a procedure that subtly reshapes your teeth by filing them with the most advanced dental equipment. If you squirm easily, you’re probably shuddering right now, but I promise you – it’s nowhere near as bad as what you’re imagining. Combined with stain removal and an at-home whitening kit, the procedure aims to enhance your own teeth by improving any crooked or uneven parts of your smile.


Chelsea Hughes, Picture & Multimedia Producer.


I’ve been longing for the whitest-of-white teeth since forever. Photo-editing apps have been doing the job for me, until now.


I’ve never had a procedure like this before, so it’s totally new to me. I was just looking for something that enhanced my smile without adding any fakery. I wouldn’t want to go as far as veneers or caps, I just wanted to improve on what I already have. I was also looking for something that was affordable, as some cosmetic dental procedures can really burn a hole in your purse.



When arriving at the clinic I was excited but totally cringing-out at the thought of having my teeth filed. The lovely Dr Sahil Patel was the dentist carrying out the procedure. We chatted about what parts of my smile I wasn’t happy about and what I wanted to improve. He talked me through each stage of the appointment and answered any questions I had. Dentist appointments don’t bother me too much, but if you are slightly nervous about it, Dr Sahil Patel would definitely make you feel at ease.

The first stage of my appointment was to have a mould taken, so that my whitening trays would be ready to take home after my appointment. My memory of teeth moulds wasn’t great as I had them for braces when I was 13. They were much more comfortable than I remember; no need to repeat ‘breathe through the nose’ over and over in my head.

The second stage of the Mini Smile Makeover was stain blasting. This is where Dr Sahil Patel removed any stains or plaque that cannot be removed by brushing alone. It felt just like a normal clean at a dentist or hygienist, nothing too uncomfortable. This method is used prior to whitening as the bleach won’t have to battle against any existing stains. It was done in just a few minutes, which was a great result for a red wine and coffee-drinker like myself.

Next was the tooth contouring. So, when we contour our face with makeup we create the illusion of a highlight and shadow. Tooth contouring is basically the same, Dr Sahil Patel files them in a way that reflects and deflects the light to make them appear straighter. My teeth are generally straight, but the tips of them were slightly uneven, especially on my lower teeth, which is quite common. Dr Sahil Patel filed the tips of my teeth along the biting edge to make them flow inline. He was very attentive, allowing me to have a look every minute to see what I thought of them. At the third look of my teeth he said “now be really picky with them and let me know of any tiny details you want to change”. This put me completely at ease, so I didn’t feel like I was being pedantic. I’d describe the cringe-factor of having your teeth filed about a two out of ten. It was completely bearable with no discomfort at all, the apprehension is much worse than reality.

Finally, Dr Sahil Patel showed me how to whiten my teeth at home with my new whitening trays. I was to whiten my teeth every night for two weeks, then once a month afterwards. During the whitening process, there was a little sensitivity, but he warned me that this would happen, and it returns to normal after the two weeks. Since I completed the whitening process, I’ve had multiple positive comments from colleagues, friends and strangers about the brightness of my teeth, which is a real boost for my confidence.

Final result of Mini Smile Makeover


All in all, the whole appointment lasted just under an hour, so you can literally squeeze this into your lunch break if you work in Central London. I am so overwhelmingly happy with the results of the Mini Smile Makeover. My teeth look so much better in my eyes, but, more importantly, they make me feel better. Now my teeth finally live up to their reputation on Instagram.

For a free simulations of The Mini Smile Makeover or for more information head to

Here’s how to get the whitest teeth of your life with a dentist-designed plan

Teeth Whitening

Here’s how to get the whitest teeth of your life with a dentist-designed plan

Lottie Winter

  • Teeth Whitening
  • 17 Jan 2020
  • 6 items
  • Lottie Winter

The Tooth Reshaping Procedure

Dr. Peter Hellwig proudly helps patients throughout San Diego achieve healthier and more beautiful smiles. At his practice, he offers various cosmetic dentistry treatments to perform total smile makeovers, which can address multiple aesthetic flaws that patients face. Among these cosmetic treatments is a process known as tooth reshaping, which might be the best solution for minor yet noticeable dental flaws.

About Tooth Reshaping

Also known as dental contouring, tooth reshaping is a cosmetic dentistry procedure that involves the careful removal of tooth enamel. By doing this, a patient’s tooth can be reshaped, improving its length, size, and overall fit/alignment in a smile.

Ideal Candidates for Tooth Reshaping

The best candidates for tooth reshaping are people who have teeth that are misshapen or poorly aligned, affecting the overall aesthetics of the smile. They should be in otherwise good dental health and have teeth that are strong and healthy. Tooth reshaping is a cosmetic procedure, so any serious issues with tooth alignment that impact dental health and wellness need to be addressed through restorative or orthodontic therapy.

Common Methods of Tooth Reshaping

The most common method of tooth reshaping involves the use of a special dental drill or hard-tissue dental laser. These are used to carefully remove part of the enamel layer of the tooth and alter the tooth’s shape in the process. Abrasive strips may also be used to help smooth out the tooth structure and tooth surface in order to achieve ideal results.

The exact treatment plan for you and your needs will be determined and discussed during the consultation process.

What to Expect During the Tooth Reshaping Procedure

During tooth reshaping, patients may be given a local anesthetic to prevent any potential discomfort. In general, the procedure is free from pain and major discomfort. Your dentist will work conservatively and subtly, carefully removing tooth structure until the shape of the tooth is more ideal.

Sometimes the tooth reshaping can be completed in a single session, though multiple sessions may be required based on the needs of the patient and the number of teeth that are being contoured.

Alternatives to Tooth Reshaping

If tooth reshaping is not an ideal option for a patient, there are plenty of other dental care options to consider.

To reshape a tooth by adding structure to it rather than taking it away, dentists may consider the use of dental bonding or porcelain veneers. These options mask imperfections of the teeth and make smiles look perfect and pristine. It’s not uncommon for dentists to combine the use of bonding and/or porcelain veneers with tooth reshaping.

For major dental misalignment, the ideal option may be orthodontic care of some kind. This will shift the position of the teeth and also enhance a patient’s dental health in the process, leading to a more beautifully aligned smile and improved wellness.

Schedule a Consultation with Dr. Peter Hellwig

For more information about tooth reshaping and your many other options for advanced dental care and smile makeover treatment, it’s important that you contact our cosmetic and restorative dentistry center today. Dr. Hellwig and his entire team look forward to your visit and helping you achieve the healthiest and most beautiful smile possible.

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Madison Dentist Smile Blog

A Fast and Affordable Cosmetic Dentistry Option in Madison

With so many cosmetic dentistry options out there, it can be hard to pick one. If your smile only needs a few subtle improvements, aesthetic dental contouring is likely the right choice for you. Also known as tooth reshaping or enameloplasty, this procedure improves smiles quickly. Changes can be made after one office visit to Total Care Dental in Madison!

Discover why dental contouring from TCD dentists is your best option for improving your smile!

What Is Dental Contouring?

Dental contouring is the removal of enamel or gums to reshape teeth. Enamel is removed with an ultra-fine diamond impregnated bur followed by a disc polishing instrument for a smooth and natural finish. Gums are reshaped with a diode soft tissue laser.

Since contouring is performed on tooth enamel, there is no need for anesthesia. Gum contouring only requires a local anesthetic. This pain-free process is quick and can be completed in one dental appointment.


Enhance a Single Tooth or All Teeth

Dental contouring can be performed on multiple teeth or just one tooth. For many, correcting the shape of a single tooth will improve their whole smile. A single tooth out of alignment can be reshaped to better match and fit the rest of your mouth, eliminating the need for more expensive or invasive treatment options.

Multiple Cosmetic Dentistry Options

Dental contouring can be used with other cosmetic dentistry services, including Invisalign and teeth whitening. In particular, contouring is often used along with porcelain or bonded veneers.

  • Whitening will brighten your teeth. When combined with contouring, your smile will look brand new. Our in-office whitening can be competed in less than two hours, meaning you get the most results without dozens of dental appointments.
  • Invisalign clear braces straighten your teeth slowly over time without the pain or hassle of metal braces. If some teeth would take longer to correct than others, contouring can reshape these teeth to make the final results of Invisalign seamless.
  • If you have missing or damaged teeth, veneers will fill in the gaps of your smile. Since natural teeth will shift to fill these gaps, some minor contouring will straighten out your teeth once the veneers are added.

A free cosmetic dentistry consultation will allow our dentists to determine the best treatment options for enhancing your smile.

Affordable Cosmetic Dentistry, Even without Insurance

Worried you won’t be able to afford cosmetic dentistry? Don’t worry! Total Care Dental has many financing and payment plans available to our Madison patients. From special discounts to partnerships with CareCredit and Illumisure, we are determined to make all our treatment options affordable for all.

During your free consultation, we can discuss payment plans along with your dental contouring treatment.

Schedule an appointment for your dental contouring in Madison with TCD now.

How much should a crown cost?

Why good dentistry seems costly – How much should a crown cost?

Michael Radu, DDS, MS

Most patients don’t ask directly why dental fees are what they are. They usually express their perception of too high a fee by leaving the practice and not returning!

A couple of weeks ago, a young mother of two boys asked me a simple and straightforward question that most patients don’t: “Doctor, why are crowns so expensive?”

Because I always try to be precise in my answers, I wanted to clarify if she was asking about crowns in general, or… my crowns. She smiled coyly and said she is just curious, in general. Understanding the underlying discussion, I told her that I would try to answer both implied questions.

What follows is my extrapolated, un-distilled answer.

First, why are crowns more expensive than fillings?

Fillings can be done when there is a cavity is relatively small in size and there is a lot of tooth structure left in place after removing soft caries (decayed tooth portion).

Fillings are done in one visit, usually in 15 to 30 minutes. There are no laboratory expenses; the dentist usually uses a composite soft material that is cured (hardened) with a blue light. Fillings wear and discolor in time, due to the properties of the composite material, so they may require replacement in time. The fees vary based on size, surfaces, and the position of the cavity, but are usually between $100-400.

Crowns are very different from fillings. A crown is indicated when the cavity destruction of the tooth is larger than 40-50%, or when a portion of the tooth is fractured off and there is not enough support for a filling. In other words, a filling fills a cavity, a crown restores a large missing portion of a tooth.

Crowns cover the whole tooth, making it stronger; crowns don’t wear and don’t discolor because the material is porcelain; crowns (usually) last much longer than fillings, 10 to 15 years, or even longer. Usually, it is the tooth itself that fails, and not the crown (hidden cavities below the crown margin on the root, infection of the nerve requiring a root canal treatment, fracture of the tooth at the gum level, or esthetic failure, because the gum has receded and the smile is unsightly).

Our crowns are fabricated with the CAD-CAM technique. This involves a crown designed with a computer from a digital model, then milled out of a block of porcelain, and then finished for esthetics by a technician. The result is a strong, precise fitting, and beautiful restoration for the patient.

Most crowns require two visits. One for preparation, impression, and fabrication of a temporary crown for the protection of the tooth while the permanent crown is created in the laboratory. The second appointment is needed to remove the temporary, fit, adjust, and cement the permanent crown.

The first appointment is 1-1.5 hours long, the second about half an hour long. The fees have to take in the account the multiple materials used (impression, provisionals, cements), the laboratory fee, and the considerable time involved – two visits totaling up to 2 hours and sometimes additional adjustments due to the bite changes that may occur.

Fees for crowns may vary between $1,000 – 1,500. Sometimes, when the tooth is heavily destroyed, an additional filling under the crown (called a build-up) is needed, which carries an additional fee.

In summary, crowns cost 3-5 times as much as fillings, because they require considerable more expense to the dentist, and they give the patient a stronger, longer lasting, more permanent and more esthetic restoration.

Second, let’s talk about my crowns. The concept starts with the diagnosis and goes on all the way to the warranty.

  • Do you really need a crown, or can the tooth be restored with a filling?
  • Is your bite right, or does it have to be adjusted before a good crown is doable?
  • Is your gum healthy, to allow for a good impression and a strong foundation, or does it need a pretreatment before the crown is made?
  • Do you need a build-up filling under the crown?
  • Do you need a root canal treatment, or can the crown be fabricated without the cost and inconvenience of this additional treatment?
  • Is the crown margin at the precise level on the tooth, or too shallow, or too deep under the gum?
  • Are the contact points naturally designed so you don’t trap food?
  • Is your crown made in China, or by master technicians using the latest technologies and materials?
  • What guarantee or warranty do you have that if something isn’t right it will be taken care of?

And one more thing, a very personal aspect, do you hate the process and the team working on you, or do you have a pleasant (well, almost pleasant) experience and love the team?

Product vs. service…

The answers to the above questions are coming down to this: is a crown a product, or a service? Because, if it is a product, and a crown.. is a crown.. is a crown, then you can purchase it online, maybe on Amazon, or eBay, for the lowest price. If you think it is a service, then you try to find an office that delivers the service you want.

My team and I are trying to deliver the best service. Firstly, to you as a person, and secondly, for your tooth/teeth.

And yes, let’s face it, not all patients are the same, not all dentists are the same, not all crowns are the same…

At the end of my ‘sermon on crowns’, the young lady asked with a smile, “Michael, shall I pay you more than your normal fee?”

“No,” I said, “you should get a discount for allowing me to explain!”


Do you have a chipped tooth or a space between your front teeth that you are not happy with? Dental bonding may be the answer for your smile.

Dental bonding is a cosmetic procedure in which a tooth-colored composite resin material is applied to your teeth to improve your smile. Bonding can improve the appearance of teeth that are chipped, broken, cracked, stained or have spaces between them.

Bonding your front teeth actually requires minimal preparation of the tooth. Anesthesia is usually not needed unless there is an old restoration or decay present. The tooth is roughened with a conditioning gel to help the bonding material adhere to the tooth. The composite resin is then applied and cured with an ultraviolet light. Your DHA dentist will then shape and polish the resin to its final appearance.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Dental Bonding


  • Cost: Bonding is one of the least expensive cosmetic procedures.
  • Time: Unlike crowns and veneers, which require more time to prepare and a second visit to place them, bonding can be completed in a single visit.
  • Invasiveness: Bonding requires minimal tooth removal. Frequently patients get multiple teeth bonded in one short appointment.


  • Staining: Although you can achieve excellent results with bonding, the resin does stain over time. Crowns and veneers will be much more stain resistant.
  • Durability: Crowns and veneers are more resistant to breaking and usually last much longer than bonding.

Dental Bonding FAQs

Dental bonding is a great option for certain cosmetic situations. There are some limitations with the composite resin material, so consult your DHA dentist about the best option for you.

How long does dental bonding last?

Success of dental bonding is determined, in part, on the location of the restoration on the tooth. If the bonding is on the very edge of your tooth, it most likely won’t not last as long because of biting forces and what types of food you are biting into. Chewy, hard or crunchy foods will weaken the bonding quickly compared to soft foods. Many patients with bonding on their front teeth avoid directly biting into food that can compromise the structural soundness of dental bonding. A tooth colored bonding can last 4 to 8 years on average, depending on tooth location and patient’s bite and eating and chewing habits.

How do I care for my bonded teeth?

Teeth that have had dental bonding done do not need different or special at home care. You should brush and floss the areas just like you would for your normal teeth. However, as stated above, dental bonding can and will stain over time. The potential for stain will be much greater (and will happen much faster) for those who consume more coffee, tea, dark cola, red wine, or tobacco products.

Will my insurance cover the cost of bonding?

The majority of insurance companies will not cover dental bonding as they consider it cosmetic. However, it doesn’t hurt to call your insurance company to ask if they have coverage for cosmetic dental work. You can also refer to your insurance booklet you were provided to check for cosmetic coverage.

Insurance coverage varies greatly for each individual policy. To find out what percentage may be covered by your insurance plan, refer to the information provided to you when you enrolled, or call the 1-800 number on the back of your card to ask a representative. If you need help obtaining this information, a Dental Health Associates front desk staff member would be happy to help you. If you are a DHA patient, our financial coordinators will help you obtain an estimate of coverage if requested.

Madison, WI Dentists You Can Trust

Qualified, DHA dentists perform affordable dental bonding in Sun Prairie, Middleton, and Fitchburg for Dane County residents looking for the best dental care. Our professionals are equipped to handle your cosmetic dental needs.

Schedule an appointment online today for a better smile tomorrow

Dental Crown Core Buildup

You probably already noticed it is common to have local treatment plans include a CDT code D2950 on the same tooth number as a crown. This is the code for the core buildup. This is a procedure that generally raises several questions as to what it is and why it is always quoted as a separate cost alongside a dental crown.

Sometimes, when a tooth is severely fractured or missing a large portion of its surface due to a large cavity or a failed filling, a crown will be recommended to restore function and appearance. However, there are times when the remaining tooth structure is so little that it is necessary to restore some surface area for adequate crown support.

The core buildup is part of the preparation of a tooth prior to a crown. It is an essential part of the process of getting a successful crown, because it is the procedure in which the tooth structure that will then serve as support to the crown is restored. There are cases in which large decay, fracture, or severe grinding leave the restorative dentist little tooth surface to work with. Due to mechanical factors a successful crown, porcelain or otherwise, requires a certain amount of height, taper, and width of structural integrity for the proper retention of the prosthetic. A large percentage of the success of the crown depends on the core buildup.

What is the core buildup made up of?

Traditionally, the buildup was made up of amalgam or other metal-based materials. However, since these act mechanically, not with adhesion, they require a more invasive preparation of the tooth enamel. In other words, they require large portions of grinding for the retention of the metal. Only more recently, dentists use composites in order to create the core buildup because they act through adhesion and require a less invasive preparation. This helps save tooth structure and results in better crown retention.

The core buildup may or may not require pins. As the buildup composite technology advances, there is every day less use of pins to help keep the buildup in place. Only in the case where the structure is so severely damaged that the nerve is compromised would there be a necessity of a pin or post. These were traditionally made of metal, but modern dentistry uses fiber posts due to a higher flexibility. The post will serve as a backbone to the buildup.

Is the core buildup always necessary for a crown?

Not all crowns require a core buildup. If the tooth is healthy when prepped or if there has been no significant damage to its structure, then the dentist can prep the tooth with no buildup because he will find all the tooth structure he needs for the crown´s proper retention in the tooth itself. It is only when this structure is compromised that the dentist decides to build up the area.

How long does it take to have a crown buildup?

This depends on the expertise of the dentist. An average core buildup should not take more than 20-30 minutes to complete. If it requires the placement of pins and/or post this may extend the process some minutes more. It should also be free from pain. After the dentist is finished, he will be ready to place a temporary crown while the permanent crown is fabricated.

At the Costa Rica Dental Team, our restorative dentists are experts in the art of crown preparation and core buildups. You will also notice that the core buildups are not quoted separately from the cost of the crown as they are in North America. This is because it is hard to foresee the necessity of the buildup until the actual preparation. For this reason, our practice decided to consider whatever buildup necessary as part of the crown. In other words, in dental practices where the core buildup is charged separately, you must consider the total cost of the crown as the sum of the buildup and the crown. At the Costa Rica Dental Team, we consider the core buildup so important for the success of a crown that all is included into a total cost from the beginning.

Contact us for a more details on how to restore your teeth with dental crowns.

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