Crowding is a relatively common concern for adults who visit their dentist or orthodontist later in life. How do you address this problem in a stable way without creating more problems?
Well, one way we’re dealing with this nowadays is a procedure called interproximal reduction or “air rotor stripping” (ARS). This method is preferred for more aggressive cases in which the patient would like to avoid tooth extraction.
This is Dr. Corina Radu, owner of Premier Orthodontics & Dental Specialists, a practice with locations in Elmhurst and Downers Grove, IL. The topic for today’s blog is the dreaded interproximal reduction (IR). I hear these concerns about this procedure all the time: what are you talking about?
You’re going to shave my teeth?! While admittedly intimidating sounding, this is exactly what IR entails. It has been an integral element of thousands of successful cases and will continue to be a frequent asset to orthodontists in the future. In fact, I had this procedure done to my own teeth; it helped a lot!
What Is Interproximal Reduction?
IR is essentially when your practitioner takes a small amount of enamel from in between the teeth. The resulting space is used to unravel the crowding of surrounding teeth. This reduction of volume is necessary to give teeth that are in some cases growing on top of each other, displaced, and/or rotated somewhere to go. Only when the bone is properly placed can the alignment process begin.
Patients presenting with thin gums or recession can also benefit greatly from IR. Using very thin pieces of disk or strip shapes metal (which contain texture-giving aluminum oxide particles), the teeth sides can be gently filed. Space is resultantly created in which surrounding crooked or displaced teeth can be moved into.
When this procedure is done properly (which, as an irreversible one, means you want to be sure of your orthodontist’s qualifications) your cheeks or lips will be unaffected. Anesthesia is unnecessary. The most common comment myself and my peers tend to receive about the work is that the filing can be a little annoying with its repetition of motion.
IR can provide you with four or five millimeters of space in your mouth- enough to avoid the need for extractions.
It’s also a great procedure when you have teeth that are very triangular and overlapping before treatment. Once you start unraveling the crowding, the gum tissue will start moving down. It creates a ‘black triangle’ of empty space in between teeth that nobody likes to see.
When you reshape those teeth and close those spaces, you are less likely to pack seeds in those black triangles. For example, when you eat bagels, they all get stuck in that little triangle, close to the gum line.
Early consultation will go a long way in figuring out whether IR is an option for your successful treatment. Even if you yourself have completed your orthodontic journey, consider bringing your children in!
Doing so early might prevent them from needing IR, extractions, or other more involved procedures to deal with crowding. Space maintainers are a great example of a quick and painless solution to crowding in children with malleable oral landscapes.