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Tooth shape
Dr Mariam Chung Reviewed by Dr Mariam Chung, Dentist

Small teeth? Big teeth? Long teeth? Healthy teeth come in different sizes and shapes, but some dentists do offer cosmetic options if you want a change.

Teeth are a little like people: they come in all shapes and sizes. Tooth shape varies based on the type and function of the tooth, but they also vary from person to person. Some people’s teeth are naturally shorter, longer, larger or smaller than others. Some tooth edges aren’t completely straight and may have small ridges, creating a grooved appearance.

Unless they present a health problem, or the shape is a result of damage, most dentists won’t usually recommend changing your tooth shape. However, there may be cosmetic options if you do want to change the way a tooth looks by altering its size or shape. 

Different types of teeth

Without missing teeth, the average adult has 28–32 teeth, depending on how many wisdom teeth have come through. These are:

  • Incisors – the flat teeth at the front of the mouth, which help you bite into food and pronounce words.
  • Canines – the sharp teeth behind the incisors that grip and tear food.
  • Premolars and molars – the large, rectangular teeth towards the back of the mouth that chew and grind food.
  • Wisdom teeth – these can grow at the back of the mouth from your late teens to your mid-20s, but not everyone has them.
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Can teeth change shape over time?

It’s possible for permanent teeth to change shape over time, often due to damage or erosion. Some of the most common reasons for this are:

Do you need to fix misshapen teeth?

Some people choose to alter their tooth shape for cosmetic reasons. But you might also choose to change your teeth’s shape for health reasons.
 
If your teeth don't fit together properly because they're too long, too short or a problematic shape, this could make it harder to eat and get the nutrition you need. It could also lead to teeth grinding or put extra strain on your jaw joints, potentially contributing to problems like TMJ dysfunction.
 
Misshapen teeth may also trap food or make it harder to brush and floss your teeth, increasing your risk for tooth decay and other oral health problems.

How can a dentist change the size or shape of teeth?

If you're thinking about trying to change your teeth’s appearance, a dentist should be able to recommend options based on your goals or needs. There are a few possible procedures that dentists use to change tooth shape, but their recommendations usually depend on what you’re trying to change and why.

Tooth reshaping

If you’re trying to make your teeth shorter or smaller, a dentist may be able to remove some of the enamel to achieve your desired shape and length. Depending on how much of the tooth's structure remains, this could also involve another treatment such as placing a crown.

Tooth bonding

If you’re trying to change teeth that have grooves, chips or small gaps, your dentist may be able to apply a tooth-coloured resin that hardens to fill in empty spaces and reshape the tooth. This resin is not as strong as tooth enamel, so it may need to be replaced over time if it chips or wears down.

Dental crowns

Crowns may be one option for lengthening short teeth orchanging the overall shape. Your dentist will first reduce the size of the tooth or teeth and take a mould. A custom crown will be designed to look and feel like a natural tooth and can be matched to your natural tooth shade.

Orthodontics

If your teeth are crooked or misaligned, orthodontic treatment with braces or clear aligners could move them into a straighter position. Orthodontic treatment is suitable for teenagers and adults and usually takes 18 months or longer, depending on how much straightening you need.

Dental veneers

Veneers are a cosmetic procedure, acting as a thin shell that is bonded to the surface of your teeth. If you’re only trying to change the appearance of your teeth and don’t need to address a dental health issue, then veneers may be a more suitable option. 

If you want to change how your teeth look, composite or porcelain veneers can cover up teeth that are slightly misshapen or slightly crooked, however, they're not suitable for more serious issues.

Curious about changing your teeth’s shape or size? Talk to a professional

A dental professional is best-placed to help you understand your options. Dental Care Network listings will tell you whether a dentist offers procedures like veneers or crowns. Sometimes, if your case is more complex, your dentist may also refer you on to a specialist prosthodontist. 

Find a dental clinic near you.

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This purpose of this article is to promote better understanding of dental health topics. It’s not meant to replace professional advice or diagnosis. Always talk to a dentist, doctor or other qualified healthcare professional if you have a question about dental or medical conditions.

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