Many people with gummy smiles feel self-conscious about their gum structure. Gum reshaping, or tissue sculpting, is a cosmetic dental procedure that reduces excessive gum tissue to create an aesthetically pleasing grin.
Your dentist will numb your mouth before beginning this procedure, which uses either a scalpel or laser. Expect some soreness after the procedure, as well as swelling. Patients will need to stick to a soft diet until their gums heal.
The Scalpel Method
This method uses a scalpel to cut and trim away excess gum tissue, leaving behind only the desired amount. It’s a quick procedure that can be performed in one office visit. After numbing the area with local anesthetic, your periodontist will use either the scalpel or a soft tissue laser built for gum surgery to remove extra tissue, resculpt your gumline, and secure the remaining tissue in place. Sutures are rarely used with this method, but depending on your needs, they may be necessary.
Periodontists have specialized training beyond dental school and are uniquely qualified to handle the delicate oral soft tissue with precision. In addition to gum reshaping, they can perform other procedures to improve the health of your teeth and gums, such as a gum lift or crown lengthening.
Before undergoing gum contouring, your doctor will evaluate your teeth and gums to make sure they’re healthy enough for this cosmetic treatment. If you have existing tooth decay or gum disease, your doctor may recommend restorative dentistry and gum disease management before attempting gum reshaping.
There are few risks associated with gum reshaping. You could have an allergic reaction to the local anesthesia, or you might develop an infection in the treated area. However, these complications are rare. You might experience some swelling or soreness after the procedure, but this will fade quickly. You should follow your dentist’s instructions and avoid foods that are too hot or spicy, to prevent irritating the sensitive tissue.
The Laser Method
A laser is used to remove excess gum tissue, reshape and sculpt the area to expose more of the tooth. This can be done for both cosmetic and restorative reasons. The procedure is quicker than the scalpel method and causes less discomfort. A laser cauterizes the tissue, so there is no bleeding. This also allows for faster healing.
Excessive gum tissue can make teeth look disproportionately small. This is often caused by medications and can be hereditary. Gingival hyperplasia can be treated with a laser by removing a small amount of the gum tissue to expose more of the tooth.
Laser gum contouring is a great treatment for people who have excessive gummy smiles or who want to lengthen their teeth for veneers and other restorations. It is a quick, safe and effective treatment that provides big results.
Recovery can be speeded up by sticking to soft foods and taking an over-the-counter NSAID for pain and tenderness. A cold compress can help soothe discomfort as well. In addition, be sure to brush and floss with extra care, as abrasive action can irritate the new gum tissue. If you are experiencing pain or swelling that doesn’t improve with over-the-counter meds, contact the office right away as it may indicate infection. Leaving an infection untreated can lead to serious oral health problems.
The procedure is usually quick and painless. A local anesthetic is used on the gum area to keep you comfortable while the doctor trims or sculpts your gum tissue. Depending on the amount of gum tissue being removed or grafted, sutures may be needed. Once the surgery is complete, you’ll be placed on a soft food diet and may need to stay home from work for a day or two. Cold foods and an ice pack help reduce swelling and discomfort. You can also take an over the counter pain reliever, such as ibuprofen or Tylenol, though always check with your dentist or doctor before taking any medication.
Gum reshaping can dramatically change the appearance of your smile. It can make your teeth appear longer and bigger, and eliminate problems like a gummy smile or a receding gum line. This cosmetic procedure can also improve your oral health by reducing tooth sensitivity and strengthening the gum line to protect the roots of your teeth.
While gum reshaping can provide amazing results, it is considered an elective cosmetic treatment and therefore it’s not typically covered by dental insurance. However, if you’re considering this procedure, it’s best to talk to your insurance provider to see what coverage might be available to you. Having this conversation early on can help you determine how much the surgery will cost and if any out-of-pocket expenses you might incur should come as a surprise.
The recovery time for gum reshaping depends on the extent of the surgery and how much tenderness you experience. It is typically short and quick, but your dentist may recommend ice packs to reduce swelling and discomfort. You might also want to use an over-the-counter pain reliever as needed.
Your dentist will provide detailed instructions after your procedure to help you heal properly. This will include dietary guidelines, a recommended mouth rinse and antibiotics to prevent infection, and other tips to promote healing.
You might want to avoid hard or crunchy foods immediately after the procedure until your gums have healed. This can irritate the sensitive gum tissue and prolong your recovery time. You will be able to return to your normal dietary habits once the tissue has healed.
In addition to enhancing your smile, gum contouring can have health benefits. Excess gum tissue can trap food particles and make teeth more vulnerable to tooth decay and periodontal disease. In some cases, trimming back the gum line might be necessary for your oral health.
During your consultation, the dental professional will assess your needs and determine the best course of action for reshaping your gums. They will take X-rays, make molds and apply anesthesia to ensure you feel comfortable during the procedure. Once the procedure is complete, you can expect to resume your normal daily activities within a day or two.