Gum contouring, sometimes known as gum reshaping, is a surgical dental procedure that is typically used to fix uneven gum lines.
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Gum contouring, or gingival sculpting, is a cosmetic dental procedure that can alter the appearance of your gums. The procedure is commonly a part of smile restoration treatments. Read below to learn more about this procedure:
Gum contouring is a surgical procedure that fixes uneven gums. Some of us think that the shape of our teeth affects the smile the most. However, the placement of the gums can also alter the appearance of a smile.
Gums could recede, exposing roots of teeth. And gums could be prominent and cover top parts of the teeth. When either happens, it alters the smile. Gum contouring may help make your smile appear more “normal,” and less “gummy.”
Gum contouring is also known as gum reshaping or the tissue sculpting procedure. Your dentist could recommend you gum contouring surgery for two main reasons:
For cosmetic reasons to change your smile
As part of a treatment plan against periodontal disease
Cosmetic gum contouring isn’t considered a necessary procedure. A patient can, with the advice from a dentist, opt for this procedure to fix uneven gums. The shape of gums are largely determined by your genetics, though sometimes disease or physical trauma could alter its appearance. The gum contouring procedure can help you change something that is otherwise not alterable.
Gum contouring is sometimes included in treatment plants for periodontal disease. That is a severe form of gum disease, or gingivitis that could result in tooth loss and serious infections. Gum sculpting may help remove diseased tissue, and add new tissue to areas that have lost gum density. It should be noted that gum contouring doesn’t cure periodontal disease. In some instances, your dentist may recommend it alongside other treatments.
Gum contouring is largely a cosmetic procedure. It is, however, a serious dental surgery. So you shouldn’t choose gum contouring unless you absolutely need it.
Here are some of the problems that gum contouring aim to fix:
Gummy smiles, where gums cover the top portion of teeth
Gum recession that make your teeth appear too high
Uneven gums caused by genetics, prescription medication, or health problems
Gums altered by periodontal disease
In some cases, dentists may use gum contouring following restorative dental treatments to make your smile appear normal. For example, if you have received dental crowns, the dentist may change the gum line around the crown to make it appear more aesthetically pleasing.
The standard gum contouring procedure can make your teeth appear more evenly proportioned. Do note that the procedure is only performed on the front teeth. If any of the above issues occur on your back teeth, not exposed by smiling, your dentist may recommend other treatments.
Gum contouring changes how your smile appears. But it doesn’t alter the natural shape of your teeth. If you have crooked or damaged teeth, then gum contouring is not for you. There are other treatments available to change the appearance of a tooth or teeth, such as dental veneers or crowns. The gum contouring procedure strictly involves changing the gum tissue.
Gum contouring is not for everyone. You can discuss your eligibility as a candidate for this procedure with a dentist. Gum contouring is usually not performed on patients who suffer from serious tooth decay or have gingivitis. Other oral health problems such as this would be addressed before you can qualify for the gum contouring procedure.
Gum contouring offers long term benefits to patients. Here is what you can expect following the procedure:
A better-looking smile that evenly exposes teeth
Complete elimination of a “gummy smile”
No more overgrown gum tissue
More confidence to smile
Your teeth will appear more proportioned
Possibly put you at less risk of gum disease
In some cases, eliminate air pockets within gums that lead to periodontal disease
Make other restorative dental work appear more natural
There are actually two versions of the gum contouring procedure. There’s the traditional gum contouring that’s been performed for decades. Nowadays, dentists mostly perform laser gum contouring.
The traditional contouring procedure is a typical surgery-type procedure that uses scalpels and similar surgical tools. An oral surgeon would manually remove excess tissue and shape the gums. Cutting off gum tissue causes a lot of bleeding, which would be stalled using gauze. The oral surgeon would then use sutures and stitches to close the wounds and complete the procedure.
While this traditional gum contouring procedure is still in practice, modern dentists prefer to use laser gum contouring. In this method, the oral surgeon doesn’t use tools but instead relies on a diode laser to cut off soft tissue. The laser cauterizes the wound as it trims the excess gum tissue.
Compared to traditional gum contouring surgery, laser gum contouring results is less bleeding. Lasers also offer more surgical assurance, so your gum line could be more even. This method also minimizes discomfort so you can recover more quickly.
If you opt for laser gum contouring surgery, the procedure will be significantly less painful compared to traditional gum contouring surgery.
In either case, the oral surgeon would numb the area before you undergo surgery. So you would not feel a thing. After the procedure, some pain is inevitable. But you can experience less pain with laser contouring.
The gum contouring procedure is intended to be permanent, and in the majority of cases, it is. However, is some cases, the removed gum tissue can grow back. This is called relapse and is one of the risks of the procedure.
If relapse is a concern, the dentist may recommend removing some bone from the top of the teeth to prevent the gums from growing back. You may be able to undergo another gum contouring procedure if relapse occurs.
Gum contouring is a minor procedure compared to most other dental surgeries. Laser gum contouring can be performed in-office with a single visit. The procedure is performed by a cosmetic dentist, an oral surgeon, or a periodontist.
The biggest part of the gum contouring procedure would be consulting with a dentist and planning your treatment. You can express your interest in gum contouring surgery to the dentist. He or she will then examine your gums and teeth to determine if you are a good candidate for the procedure.
Why you need to perform gum contouring would matter before undergoing the procedure. If you want gum contouring done for purely cosmetic reasons, your dentist would discuss your medical history with you. You will be checked for possible oral health issues, such as gingivitis or tooth decay. The dentist would perform a thorough examination of the gums to determine if it’s viable to remove gum tissue to fix your smile.
Your dentist would recommend gum contouring surgery as an option to treat periodontal disease. However, there would be other alternatives to consider, such as tissue stimulation or bone grafts.
In some cases, the dentist may recommend gum reshaping as a part of a total smile makeover. If you are getting veneers or crowns, the dentist may suggest gum sculpting to make the smile appear more even.
The initial consultation for a gum contouring surgery would vary depending on each individual case. Some patients undergo thorough medical consultations with their dentist before the procedure. But gum contouring can be done as part of a routine checkup or teeth cleaning. Because of the minimally invasive nature of laser gum contouring, the procedure can be completed with little to no risk.
The process of getting your gums reshaped would depend on whether you choose the laser or the traditional method. The laser method is used most commonly, though in rare cases the dentist may opt for a traditional gum contouring surgery.
This process is quite simple as straightforward. Your dentist will prepare you for the process by applying a local anesthetic to the gums. This numbs your gums, but won’t put you “to sleep” like a general anesthetic.
Then, the dentist would use a diode laser to trim the excess parts of the gums, sculpting to make it more aesthetically appealing. The laser procedure doesn’t cause excessive bleeding. The process only takes about half an hour to complete. Once done, the dentist would seal the contoured area. Stitches are not necessary.
This is performed by an oral surgeon. To start, you would be given a local anesthetic. In some cases, the dentist may recommend a general anesthetic, especially if you have a dental phobia.
The procedure would involve the dental surgeon making incisions on your gums to remove excess tissue. There will be a lot of bleeding and the dentist would put gauze in your mouth to control it. The dental surgeon would contour your gums by hand.
When done, the surgeon would stich the wounds. The total time will be around an hour, but time can vary depending on the dental surgeon’s skill level and style.
Recovery time and comfort level will depend on whether you chose the laser procedure or traditional surgery. Following laser gum sculpting, you will experience some minor discomfort. There could be some swelling of the gums and you may feel some pain. It’s possible that some bleeding occurs.
Most patients, however, recover quickly within a day from laser gum contouring. Your healing process can last up to a week or more. Your dentist would recommend a liquid diet or soft foods for several days afterwards. Total recovery time is a few days in most cases.
Recovering from traditional gum contouring takes longer. You will experience pain and discomfort following the procedure. There will be swelling in the gums, and the dentist may prescribe you antibiotics to minimize the risk of infection. You would have to wait a few days until the wounds are healed. The dentist may recommend a follow-up visit to remove the stitches. Recovery may last over a week.
In either case, most patients can manage pain with over-the-counter painkillers.
Laser gum contouring is considered a safe procedure. But no surgical procedure is without risks or complications. Here are some of the most prominent risks of gum contouring:
Relapse, where the removed gum tissue grows back, reversing the benefits of the procedure
Black gums, where new gum tissue grows back in a darker shade than your natural gum color. This is a high risk if long-term medication caused the gums to overgrow in the first place.
Tooth sensitivity, if trimming the gums exposes roots of teeth
Allergic reactions to the local anesthetic in rare cases
Prolonged healing time, especially if some bone was removed with the excess gum tissue.
Risk of infection if your underwent traditional gum contouring surgery
You can discuss the above risks with your dentist prior to undergoing gum contouring surgery.
The cost of a gum contouring surgery can vary. In the UK, costs can range from 150 to 300 pounds. In the US, the procedure would cost at least $200 or, most likely, more.
The costs for the procedure largely depend on the dental clinic you choose. Finding budget-friendly clinics may help you reduce the overall costs of the procedure. However, don’t go to a dental clinic with subpar services just to save a few hundred dollars.
If you live in a country where dental care is expensive everywhere, you can consider flying to Turkey to reduce the costs of procedures like gum contouring. Turkey offers low rates for dental care that meets EU standards and regulation. If you are curious about dental treatment prices, you could check our prices page.
If gum contouring is part of a collection of smile restoration treatments, then you would have to spend a lot of money on it. Once more, you can keep all costs low by traveling to a country like Turkey for affordable dental care.
You can check in with your health insurance provider for financing options as well. Health insurance policies typically don’t cover cosmetic dental procedures like gum contouring. However, you may get financial assistance if the procedure is part of a treatment plant for periodontal disease.