Interproximal Reduction (IPR)

Interproximal reduction (IPR), also known as tooth stripping, is a procedure that is sometimes undertaken as part of the Invisalign treatment process, which is a well-known form of invisible braces. This is because in some cases there is not enough space available to move teeth into the desired position when using Invisalign, and so instead of removing teeth to make space the IPR procedure is undertaken.

What is IPR?

The IPR treatment is used when teeth are overcrowded and involves the dentist stripping away a portion tooth in order to create space. This creates room between teeth in order to allow for their movement when the Invisalign aligners are worn, though this stripping does require a certain level of tooth enamel to be removed. However, in the rights hands this procedure is completely safe to undertake and is a great alternative to tooth extraction, as is sometimes needed for other brace treatments. During your initial consultation for Invisalign your dentist will be able to advise you as to whether or not this procedure is necessary.

Are there any alternatives to IPR?

Some people may be put off by the idea of removing enamel from their teeth but this is a much better alternative to other routes, tooth extraction being one such example. In order to create space to allow teeth to move freely the dentist could possibly try to reposition the patient’s teeth in their jawbone but this is a restricted process. Tooth extraction, another alternative, would mean you are losing a tooth, never a good thing, and may result in too much space being created. If a minimal level of tooth space is required then IPR is always the safer option to undertake.

Will the IPR procedure cause any pain?

Though stripping away a portion of your teeth may sound like a painful procedure, especially in light of the fact that such teeth are most likely in good health, this is a much better alternative to having teeth extracted. The general thinking is that teeth that are in line undergo some level of stripping anyway due to them being in contact with other neighbouring teeth, and the fact that teeth undergo a certain level of movement when being used due to them being held in place by soft tissue.

This contact of teeth is believed to strip away some of the enamel. However, it teeth are crowded then they are unlikely to be in line with one another and therefore unlikely to experience this stripping. So, it is believed that the amount of tooth enamel removed during IPR is what would have been lost anyway due to the natural movement of teeth in the first place.

Will IPR make teeth more susceptible to tooth decay?

This procedure has now been in use for several years and there has yet to be any relationship found between the IPR procedure and tooth decay.

What does the IPR process involve?

The IPR procedure can be performed in one of two ways: either the dentist uses a dental drill or does it by hand using flexible strips that are worked in between teeth to create space. The method the dentist chooses to use will be down to the level of stripping required. For example, if .33mm or less of stripping is required then the dentist will do the treatment by hand, but if more is needed the dentist will likely go with the dental drill. Both methods are completely safe.

To make sure the correct amount of tooth is shaved away the dentist will from time to time fix a gauge in between your teeth during the IPR process to measure it. Any stripping will be put down in your dental record and any further stripping required, which does occur in some cases, will also be recorded. It will of course feel slightly unpleasant to have a strip remove part of your teeth or the vibration of the drill. None the less there the process causes no pain and there is therefore no need for anaesthesia.

Will the space created between teeth be noticeable?

The IPR procedure aims to create space between teeth and it may be the case that the created gaps are noticeable, for a little time anyway. However, there is also the possibility that they will not be noticeable at all. During the Invisalign treatment the gaps will of course close and you will have the straight teeth you always desired.

Why would IPR need to be performed more than once?

Depending on your specific case you may need to have IPR performed more than once or not at all depending on the state of your teeth. It is likely that any future IPR undertaken will be less invasive than prior proceedings.