Interproximal reduction (IPR), also known as tooth stripping, is a procedure that is sometimes undertaken as part of the Invisalign treatment process. Invisalign is a well-known form of invisible braces. This IPR is done in some cases because there is not enough space available to move the teeth into the desired position when using Invisalign. The IPR procedure is undertaken rather than having to remove teeth for Invisalign.
What is IPR?
When teeth are overcrowded, IPR is used as a treatment to strip away a portion of the tooth in order to create more space. This creates room between teeth in order to allow for the movement when the Invisalign aligners are worn. However, this stripping does require a certain level of tooth enamel to be removed. In the right hands, however, this procedure is completely safe to undertake and is a great alternative to tooth extraction. Tooth extraction is sometimes needed for other brace treatments. During your initial Invisalign consultation with your dentist, they will be able to advise you as to whether or not this procedure is necessary.
Are There Alternatives to IPR?
It is completely understandable that some people may be apprehensive or indeed put off by the idea of having the enamel removed from their teeth. However, when weighed up against the alternative (e.g. tooth extraction) it seems a fairly small price to pay. In order to create the space needed to allow your teeth to move freely, it is possible that your dentist could try to reposition your teeth in the jaw bone but this is a restricted process.
Tooth extraction is another alternative but it has two disadvantages. Firstly, you would be losing a tooth and secondly you may have the effect of having too much space being created. If a minimal level of space is required then the safest option to take is interproximal reduction.
Will IPR Make Teeth More Susceptible To Tooth Decay?
Until now, there has yet to be any established relationship found between the IPR procedure and tooth decay. This is based on data on the procedure which has been gathered for several years.
What Does The IPR Process Involve?
The IPR procedure can be performed on one of two ways:
Your dentist can use a dental drill or it can be done by hand using flexible strips (like fairly thin files) in between the teeth to create space. The level of stripping required will determine which method your dentist chooses to use in your particular case. For example, if the level of stripping required is 0.33 mm or less then your dentist will do the treatment by hand. If however, there is a greater level of stripping require then your dentist will more than likely go with a dental drill. It should be noted that both methods are completely safe.
In order to make sure that the correct amount of tooth is shaved away, your dentist will, from time to time, fix a gauge in between your teeth during the IPR process in order to make accurate measurements. Any stripping that you require will be recorded in your dental records by your dentist so that if any follow-up stripping is required (which does occur in some cases) then your dentist will have a record of all stripping of your teeth. It will, of course, be a slightly unpleasant experience to have stripping of enamel from your teeth, regardless of which of the two methods is used by your dentist. However, it should be noted that this process involves no pain and therefore there is no need for anaesthesia.
Will The Space Created Between My Teeth Be Noticeable?
The purpose of the IPR procedure is to create space between your teeth and therefore it may be that in your particular case the created gaps are noticeable. By the very nature of the Invisalign process, these gaps will only be there for a short period of time. It is important to note that there is also the possibility that the new gaps will not be noticeable. During the Invisalign treatment, the gap will of course close, and you will have the straight teeth you desired.
Why Would IPR Need To Be Performed More Than Once?
Depending on the state of your teeth, it may be the case that you need to have IPR performed more than once. Naturally it is more than likely that any future IPR undertaken will be less invasive than any previous proceedings.