big teeth

Reshaping is not always recommended since large teeth may not be the actual cause of your uneven smile.


Julia Roberts may be an Academy Award winner and a regular on People Magazine's "Most Beautiful" list, but it seems she's largely envied for her smile. Likewise, Tom Cruise may be known for yelling "show me the money!" or jumping on Oprah's couch, but it's hard to top that "Top Gun" million-dollar smile. Indeed, cosmetic dentists report that Julia and her equally toothy colleague Tom are celebrities whose teeth dental patients most want to emulate [source: Chicago Dental Society].

While many people want the movie star look of bigger teeth, there are still some who want to go the other way, wishing their choppers were a little less prominent. In such cases, a dentist can reshape the teeth in question.

Also called recontouring, striping, slenderizing or -- more informally -- shaving, tooth reshaping involves a dentist removing small amounts of enamel from a tooth to alter its length or shape. It's a simple procedure, but it can only be performed on teeth that have adequate enamel. Beneath enamel, our teeth have a material known as dentin. And because dentin can feel sensations, there must be enough enamel left to protect it. Your dentist can usually determine whether you have sufficient enamel by taking an X-ray of your teeth.

If you're considering having some of your teeth reshaped, learn more about the procedure -- and alternatives -- on the next page.