If your gums rest too low or too high on your teeth and you are unhappy with your smile, you may be a candidate for gum contouring surgery. Also known as gum reshaping or tissue sculpting, this cosmetic dental procedure can even out an uneven gum line and give you a smile you can be proud of. While this is more often a cosmetic surgery, it is also done to fight periodontal disease. We take a look at what gum contouring is and whether it might be right for you.

What causes uneven gums?

A number of things can cause your gums to be too low or too high. Gums that cover a large portion of your teeth can make your teeth look small, which is commonly called a “gummy” smile. This may be the result of genetics, a particular health problem, or taking certain prescription drugs. Gums that are too high and make your teeth appear long are often caused by gum recession, a condition in which gum tissue pulls back from a tooth and exposes the tooth’s root. Not only can gum recession make your teeth look long, it can lead to serious dental problems such as decay and tooth loss. Gum recession may also be a sign of periodontal disease, the deterioration of the supporting structures of the teeth (gums and bone).

Is it a necessary surgery?

Gum contouring alone is considered a cosmetic procedure. Most of the time it is not medically necessary. Most people have their gums reshaped to improve the appearance of their smile. However, some people undergo this surgery as part of other necessary periodontal procedures, such as crown lengthening, pocket reduction, and regenerative procedures. Receding gums leave the teeth exposed and vulnerable, while the occurrence of pockets between the teeth provide an ideal location for bacteria to accumulate. Periodontal gum reshaping removes these and seals the tissue to prevent future problems. Gum reshaping procedures not considered cosmetic also include adding gum tissue when recession has occurred and trimming overgrown tissue that has covered part of the tooth crown.

How is the surgery done?

Gum reshaping is performed in the dentist’s office. Currently, dentists use scalpels, lasers, and radiosurgery to perform the gum contouring procedure. The laser is used to re-contour and then seal the tissue to create the ideal shape and prevent ongoing bleeding. The dentist can also use the laser to eradicate hollows that trap bacteria to prevent future infections. Ask your dentist which technique is the most suitable for your situation. Before surgery, your provider should go over what he or she will be doing during the procedure. Often, dentists will use a pen and draw a line to mark the new gum line. That way, you can see exactly how much gum will be removed or how the gum line will be reshaped.  A local anesthetic may be applied to numb the area. Sometimes, bone at the front of the tooth’s root must also be removed during gum contouring to achieve the best long-term results.

What is the treatment after surgery?

After having your gums reshaped, it’s important to practice good dental hygiene for several weeks after the procedure. Until the gums have fully healed, daily brushing and flossing may need to be more gentle than usual to avoid irritating the sensitive tissue. This could cause bleeding and the development of infection. Use a gentle cleansing mouth rinse that kills most germs on contact without the burn of alcohol on sensitive gums. There’s no need to settle for the smile you have. Modern dental science offers a wide range of possible treatments to improve your appearance, your confidence and your health. Your dentist can help you decide whether gum reshaping is right for you.

Do you have any questions about gum contouring? Call Westermeier Martin Dental care to schedule an appointment with your dentist 716-508-4547.