Interproximal reduction (IPR) is a procedure in which a small amount of enamel is shaved off of the tooth. The process is also referred to as interproximal enamel reduction, or tooth (teeth) stripping, slenderizing or shaving.
In today’s post we’ll cover what you can expect if you need IPR during your orthodontic treatment, as well as the most common conditions treated with this procedure.
Interproximal Reduction—What to Expect
Interproximal reduction may sound complicated or involved, but it is actually a very quick and easy procedure. While you may feel some vibration or pressure during IPR, there should be no pain and anesthesia is usually not necessary.
Once the teeth that need to be shaved have been determined, a small thickness of enamel will be stripped from them with a precise, diamond-coated tool. A gauge will be used during the process to monitor the exact amount of enamel that is being removed.
In the video below, the enamel is being removed manually with a small diamond-crusted strip:
Common Conditions Treated with IPR
Generally speaking, your orthodontist will want to perform interproximal reduction any time more space needs to be created for the teeth to fit together properly and/or to achieve the most aesthetically pleasing result.
The most common conditions treated with IPR are mild-to-moderate crowding and so-called “dark triangles,” which are triangular gaps between the teeth near the gum line:
Safety and Long-Term Effects of Interproximal Reduction
While it’s natural to be concerned about possible damage to your teeth as a result of interproximal reduction, most people have enough enamel on their teeth to allow for a reasonable amount to be removed without any adverse effects at all. The procedure is very safe, and the risk of developing cavities or gum disease as a result of having it done is incredibly low.
Not all patients wearing braces or Invisalign® will need interproximal reduction. But if you do, the information above should alleviate any fears or concerns you may have regarding the procedure. If your orthodontist recommends IPR, know that he is doing so to ensure you achieve the best possible outcome of your orthodontic treatment, and that he will take great care in removing the smallest amount of enamel necessary to achieve that result.