Slicing, also known as approximal enamel reduction, is the narrowing of teeth and/or molars by sanding them down slightly. We never do this without discussing it with you at the treatment plan meeting or during a recent appointment.

Slicing is not painful; it feels like filing a nail. Although you can safely remove up to 0.5mm of enamel, we maintain a safety margin and never remove more than 0.3mm per tooth side, which means that the majority of the existing enamel around a tooth remains intact. After ‘narrowing’, the tooth is polished thoroughly. Research throughout the past decades has shown time and again that, if you follow the above guidelines, slicing does not lead to a higher risk of cavities, not even in the long term.

Slicing is done for several reasons:

  • to reduce the lack of space in situations where pulling teeth would be too excessive;
  • if there is a “misalignment” in the widths of teeth in the upper and lower jaw. Without proper proportions, a stable bite cannot develop. If the “misalignment” is minor, it may not be discovered until during the treatment and slicing is usually chosen. If the ratio is somewhat larger, it is also possible to choose to widen two teeth that are too narrow, rather than narrowing several teeth or molars. In this case, we deliberately create small gaps with the braces and the dentist then fills these gaps with a tooth-coloured filling material. The disadvantage of this option is that you cannot bite anything hard with the widened teeth, as the fillings come loose easily, and after 10 years the filling material often has to be polished or replaced;
  • to prevent black triangles. It is only in this latter situation that slicing “only” serves an aesthetic purpose.