Enamel microabrasion is a minimally invasive technique for improving the appearance of teeth with superficial enamel irregularities and discolouration defects. Tooth enamel defects amenable to microabrasion are brown or white stains or spots associated with conditions such as enamel fluorosis, hypomineralisation, decalcified areas around orthodontic brackets or other intrinsic factors that do not respond to bleaching alone. In fact, microabrasion may be used either prior to and/or after dental bleaching to achieve uniform tooth colour for these types of difficult to treat teeth.
The Microabrasion Technique
Enamel microabrasion involves the application of an acid-abrasive gel to remove the tooth stains once teeth have been isolated with a rubber dam barrier to protect the surrounding gums. The acid-abrasive gel is then applied with a minute polishing brush, and very light pressure until the stained lesion gradually disappears. A CPP-ACP varnish called MI Varnish is then applied to the enamel to harden the treated tooth surface.
Following microabrasion and/or teeth bleaching, home application of a remineralising crème such as Tooth Mousse or Tooth Mousse Plus, is recommended for a period to enrich treated tooth enamel with calcium and phosphate minerals, for a beautiful post treatment sheen. Young children's blotchy permanent front teeth may be treated quite safely with this technique.
Success Of Enamel Microabrasion
Unfortunately, enamel microabrasion cannot solve all tooth discolouration problems. With this procedure, treatment of defects is limited to the outermost regions of the enamel surface. Hence, only superficial enamel lesions (of less than 0.2mm in depth) will be removed successfully. Many times it is difficult to predict the prognosis of the procedure because the exact depth of the lesion is difficult to determine.
Even if microabrasion fails to remove the stains completely, conservative treatment approaches such as this should always be considered first, prior to techniques which require more substantial amounts of enamel to be removed. Restorative treatments such as composite fillings or veneers may be the next step if microabrasion and dental bleaching are unable to achieve the desired result.