Microabrasion revisited – and dental photos!
Posted: April 9, 2013
Last Modified: December 21, 2020
Amongst the arsenal of dental cosmetic treatments available to us in Barrie, few offer such dramatic changes in such a short time as dental microabrasion. This is a great treatment for brown or white stains on teeth that arose as a result of some sort of enamel formation defect (technically, dysmineralization).
When enamel is forming, it should be a perfectly clear crystal structure with little, if any colouration. Sometimes, this does not happen and the result is brown or white stains on the teeth that are intrinsic (i.e.: not acquired over time extrinsic stains like food stains). These discoloured areas cannot be brushed clean and will also not respond to whitening. Often they lead to a lifetime of dissatisfaction with the appearance of the teeth. If severe, they can cause significant embarrassment to the point that someone may not wish to smile.
These teeth are not more susceptible to decay; they are just discoloured. Because there is not a structural concern, dentists are loathe to treat them invasively with resins or veneers; the teeth would be compromised for what is merely an esthetic problem. Enter microabrasion. This process is a painless, one-appointment procedure that requires no anesthetic. Akin to microdermabrasion, it involves using a dedicated slurry that gently and slowly removes the offending poorly-formed superficial enamel (about 1 hair’s thickness, so not a lot). By removing the stained enamel and uncovering the underlying properly-formed enamel, the enamel can then rebuild itself properly. Remember, enamel is a crystal, and like other crystals, can rebuild without biologic influence. Typically, the darker, browner stains will respond better than white staining.
The result is an instant improvement in appearance after about an hour’s worth of treatment, and an appearance that improves over time as the tooth rebuilds. A quick, simple albeit underused treatment that does not compromise the tooth. The cost is calculated based on the amount of time required to remove the stains, and is comparable to (if not less than) in-office whitening of teeth.
What is microabrasion not effective on? If there are very white and deep formation defects that extend the full thickness of enamel, it will obviously not work completely. Also, teeth with formation defects (genetic) such as amelogenesis imperfecta, dentinogenesis imperfecta, or tetracycline staining. These problems are not superficial, so a superficial treatment would not be expected to improve them.
Below is a recent case of a 35-year old female patient who had been dissatisfied with the streaked, discoloured front of her upper front four teeth. She had been told by several other dentists that there was no good treatment for the stain other than veneers, but that veneers would be overaggressive treatment for such a small problem. We suggested microabrasion as a possible solution, and when you look at the following photographs, we think the results speak for themselves.
Total treatment time: 1h treatment, followed by 20-30 minutes of 1.1% Neutral sodium fluoride gel applied to teeth. All treatment done with rubber dam in place. The cost was less than the typical cost for in-office whitening.
If you’d like to explore microabrasion as a treatment option, or wish to have an overall oral / dental health evaluation, please contact us! We’d love to be your Barrie dentist.