interproximal reduction

For decades, orthodontists have been using interproximal reduction in their work. Also known as “stripping” or IPR, interproximal reduction refers to a dental procedure where your dentist carefully trims off some thickness of the enamel from pre-selected teeth in cases of overcrowding. Left untouched, the teeth would normally touch or press against each other.

Interproximal stripping has now become an excellent alternative to permanent extraction or arch expansion especially in cases of moderate crowding (4 to 8 mm). This has made it an attractive choice for treating adults. The overall goal of this procedure is to narrow the teeth by trimming them.

Interproximal Reduction Procedure

Interproximal reduction is basically an adjunctive technique used in reducing intra-arch teeth crowding of up to 8mm. It also increases teeth stability by flattening the contact surfaces. There is no specific single technique that can be employed in every situation although the basic principles are the same.

IPR is performed by hand. The orthodontist uses flexible diamond-coated strips working back and forth between the teeth. It works like a finger­nail file, removing a very small portion of the enamel thickness. The trimming is to create space is for orthodontic realignment.

Is Interproximal Reduction (IPR) Safe

Plaque is likely to collect more easily on IPR teeth if the tooth surface has not been smoothly polished by your orthodontist. Generally, those who cooperate well with the interproximal reduction treatment experience good results as it is an important factor.

You need to be careful and not to gouge or nick the cementum as that could lead to loss of the attachment. If you experience brace breakages repeatedly or if you are unable to keep the teeth clean, it may become necessary to stop the treatment, leaving you in a worse position than before.

How Long Does IPR Take?

This is a short procedure that only takes a couple of minutes. It may, however, need to be performed more than just once depending on how much trimming is needed. Sometimes the orthodontist may need to perform IPR on different teeth at different times throughout the period of treatment.

Does IPR Hurt?

It might be a little unpleasant, but not painful. You will feel the drill vibrations or the diamond strip tugging between the teeth. Because the outer layers of your teeth have no nerve endings, you feel no pain and it doesn’t require dental anesthetic.

The procedure doesn’t affect your gums and also doesn’t expose you to gum disease risk. It’s, however, important to maintain good oral health and hygiene throughout the orthodontic treatment and after.

Will There Be Visible Gaps Between Teeth?

After the IPR you will obviously notice small gaps between the teeth. After all, isn’t creating space between teeth the reason you sought the treatment. Your new teeth gaps, however, may not be as apparent to others as you think.  Interproximal reduction actually helps you get better teeth alignment and to also maintain proper spacing.


Tooth crowding is a common reason why people seek orthodontic treatment.

Towards that, interproximal reduction is a good option. IPR is often used together with Invisalign treatment to achieve faster tooth movement. It should, however, be avoided in those who have very rectangular teeth, people whose teeth have little interproximal enamel and those with very poor hygiene. 

Author: Peter Mayhew

Peter is a dental hygienist in the city of Chicago, IL. In his free time he likes to write blogs and product reviews on anything dental health related.