Contouring is when you file the corners of the tooth with a diamond strip, contouring the IPR areas to be convex (curved) and not flat. This is done to create a more natural appearance of the tooth.
When you perform IPR with a diamond disc, you'll usually end up with flat surfaces between the teeth and some sharp corners at the edges. This isn't necessarily a functional problem, but some doctors and patients find it aesthetically displeasing. Proper contouring often hides/removes any evidence of IPR and the result ideally restores teeth to their natural contours.
Additionally, aligning teeth with rounded contacts will reduce the arch length and reduce the appearance of open space between teeth. The rounded surface allows for the tooth to rotate without having the corners as contact areas. If the square corner is touching on the lingual, sometimes the buccal contact looks open.
Hygiene is another issue because natural rounded contacts have a spot surface contact and a flat IPR surface has a broad larger contact. This will mean cavities will be larger on the broad contact when compared to the spot contact.
Here's how to contour the tooth:
Equipment you may need:
- File the corners with a diamond strip after finishing your IPR.
- Bend the strip into a "U" shape and hold it that way as you move it back and forth. You don't want to reduce the main contact area more than recommended, so make sure the strip is only touching the corners that you want to round off - not the middle of the contact surface.
We offer a complete IPR kit with discs, strips, burs, and gauges. You can purchase the full IPR kit on our online Store.