A lot of people with “gummy” smiles assume their unbalanced smile is permanent. Dentists can whiten, cover up, or replace teeth but the shape of one’s gums seems a little more immutable. Fortunately, here at Wylie Smiles, our dentist, Dr. Rana Nassar is always eager to master the techniques that her patients require. This is why we offer both crown lengthening and gum contouring. These two procedures can quickly and easily give patients with “gummy” smiles the beautiful, full smiles they’ve always dreamed of. There are other reasons crown lengthening/gum contouring is necessary as detailed further below.
Why do I have uneven gums?
Millions of people have uneven gums. Some people have gums that are too low, thus concealing part of their teeth, and some people have gums that are too high. High gums can be a sign of gum recession, which is where the gums begin to pull away from the tooth. Gum recession is frequently tied to periodontal disease which can lead to serious problems like tooth loss. If your teeth look “long,” (and they weren’t always like this) you might be suffering from periodontal disease. Make an appointment at Wylie Smiles to up a free consultation.
To book a consultation fill out form or call (972) 442-6879
In contrast, low gums can make your teeth appear much smaller than they actually are. However, people with “gummy smiles” don’t actually have small teeth — their gums are just extending down too far. Low gums typically stem from genetics though certain drugs and health disorders can also cause a gummy smile.
How do gum contouring and crown lengthening work?
For those with low gums, crown lengthening is the preferred method of treatment. During the procedure, Dr. Rana Nassar doesn’t just cut away gum tissue, as many patients assume. In time, gum tissue grows back, making the procedure’s results temporary.
Instead, Dr. Rana Nassar takes the extra step and reshapes the bone. It’s important to remember that in a “gummy smile”, it’s not necessarily the gums that are always at fault. It’s really the shape of the bone underneath that ultimately affects how the gums lie.
Gum contouring is a little more ambiguous. It can either refer to removing some of the gum tissue (which has varying levels of success) or adding needed gum tissue. For patients with “high” gums from gum recession, this procedure can make a big change.
How long will it take?
Crown lengthening and gum contouring are quick, comfortable procedures that take minutes. Our dentist use a local anesthetic to numb the area but other sedation options may be available. Using painless techniques designed to enhance your smile immediately or take care of any restoration procedure needed, your surgery will be as quick and comfortable as possible. Recovery is fast and typically involves very little post-operative pain or bleeding.
Reasons for crown lengthening
Crown lengthening is a versatile and common procedure that has many effective uses and benefits. The vast majority of patients who have undergone this type of surgery are highly delighted with the results.
Here are some of the most common reasons for crown lengthening:
• Restoration of damaged teeth – Periodontal disease can cause severe damage to the teeth, as can trauma and decay. Where teeth have been broken beneath the gum line, crown lengthening can be used to prepare the area for a new restoration to correct the damaged teeth.
• Cosmetic uses – Extra gum tissue can make teeth look unnaturally short, and also increase susceptibility to periodontal infections. Removing excess gum tissue can restore a balanced, healthy look and thus improve the aesthetic appearance of the smile.
• Dental crowns – Crown lengthening serves to provide more space between the supporting jawbone and dental crown. This prevents the new crown from damaging gum tissues and bone once it is in place.
What is gum contouring?
Gum contouring is a cosmetic procedure that can change the shape of your gums. Our dentist can use this procedure to cut away excessive gum tissue that is giving you a “gummy” smile or to restore gum tissue that has receded and is now exposing too much of your teeth.
How do I know if I need gum contouring?
Typically, this is a highly personal decision that is made based on how you feel about your gums. If your gums are uneven, or they cover too much or too little of your teeth, then you may be a good candidate for gum contouring or gum reshaping. To find out, schedule an appointment with our dental office or fill out appointment form.
Is there pain associated with the procedure?
There can be, but you will be medicated during the procedure, which will reduce the likelihood of you feeling any pain. The amount of pain really depends on how much gum tissue is being cut away, shaped, or grafted.
What is the recovery time like?
This also heavily depends on the type of tools used to complete the procedure. When a scalpel is used for gum contouring, sutures will be necessary and there will be more overall irritation. Very often, lasers can treat the gums without cutting or sutures, decreasing the recovery time. Regardless, you will experience some swelling and discomfort afterward. You can manage it by applying ice packs to your face for 15 minutes at a time and using ibuprofen.
Are there any restrictions during recovery?
Yes. You will need to be careful with what you eat. Since your gums will be sensitive, you should avoid eating anything that is sharp or that could cut, poke, or irritate them in any way. For this reason, most people stick with a soft diet of yogurt, soup, ice cream or pudding for a couple of days. Follow up visit our dentist will examine the gums to determine if everything is healing properly, and if it is, they will let you know when you can return to all your normal dietary habits. Additionally, you may be prescribed an antibiotic rinse to use in order to combat a potential infection, and when you do brush your teeth, you will need to do so very gently.
Is gum shaping different from gum contouring?
These terms are used interchangeably by dentists who perform them. Some may use contouring to describe the procedure with the use of a scalpel and reshaping when lasers are used. At the end of the day, the approach and objective are very similar. It is the tools that are different. The key is that if you want your gums to look different, it doesn’t really matter which term is used, both contouring and reshaping can be an excellent solution.
Is this purely a cosmetic procedure, or is there a medical reasons for contouring and shaping?
That depends on why you want to schedule a gum reshaping. If you are calling our office because you suffer from gum disease, we will first examine you to determine if you have the condition, discuss your treatment options, and work to eliminate the actual disease. At that point, you may very well need a gum contouring procedure in order to restore gums that have receded and are now putting the health of your teeth, roots, and jawbone at risk. In a very real sense, gum contouring and grafting can help save your teeth.
While typically gum recession is caused by gum disease, you could also experience this due to excessive tooth brushing, taking a prescription drug, or even genetics. In this case, as with gum disease, restoring your gum tissue may become necessary for your optimum oral health.
Will insurance pay for it?
That really depends on your insurance company and whether you are getting the procedure to restore gums ravaged by gum disease or if you are having it done to simply remove a gummy smile and improve your appearance. Typically, if it is for health reasons, the insurance company will pay for at least part of it. At Wylie Smiles, if you have PPO Dental Insurance we will call your insurance and get a specific breakdown of benefits before your appointment so you can be prepared on any cost associated with crown lengthening/gum contouring.
What are the risks associated with gum reshaping?
You could get an infection or have a bad reaction to the anesthesia. If you have had surgery and anesthesia before, it is unlikely that you will have a bad reaction this time. Simultaneously, if you follow the aftercare instructions, your risk for infection will go down significantly.
What are my other options?
If you do not like the appearance of your smile, call (972) 442-6879 and schedule an appointment with our dental office. We can conduct a thorough examination and take X-rays before discussing what you do not like about your smile. We can then make a series of recommendations for how to address it. If you don’t need gum reshaping for medical reasons, you can always have other cosmetic procedures like teeth whitening or dental bonding completed first to see if the impact is significant enough for you. Otherwise, if your gums remain an obvious issue, you should explore gum contouring further, and we can then make a recommendation for the best way for you to proceed.
To book a consultation fill out form or call (972) 442-6879
Definition of Gum Disease Terminology
Chronic periodontitis is the most common form of periodontitis, involving inflammation of the tissue surrounding the teeth and pockets forming as well.
Necrotizing Periodontal Disease
Necrotizing periodontal disease is an infection that causes lesions to form on the face and other symptoms due to the necrosis of gingival tissues, periodontal ligaments and alveolar bone.
A periapical cyst is a pathological cavity, roots of the teeth, that typically has epithelium in the lining and contains fluid or soft matter.
Periodontal disease is a serious inflammation of the gingival tissues and the periodontal membrane of the teeth that causes pain and helps form deeper gingival sulcus.
Periodontal ligaments are a group of tissue fibers that help attach the tooth to the alveolar bone, which can sustain damage from gum disease or improper oral hygiene.
A periodontal pocket is a potential area of space, known as a gingival sulcus, which is deeper than normal and can contain bacteria that cause an infection.
Periodontal surgery is the treatment of extreme levels of periodontal disease that can involve multiple techniques to remove the inflamed tissue and infection before it spreads.
Scaling and Root Planing
Scaling and root planing is a non-surgical therapy that involves the removal of dental plaque in hard to reach places with patients who do not take proper care of their teeth.
CEREC AC Connect
CEREC AC Connect allows dental professionals to take digital images of the teeth and send them directly to a dental lab for creation.
CEREC Omnicam is generates a full color scan of the teeth enamel without the need for a powder coating and is simple to operate.
CEREC Orthodontics allow for orthodontists to create a 3D scan of the patient’s teeth without the need for an impression tray to make a mold of the teeth.
CEREC Smile Design Software
CEREC Smile Design Software is a tool that enhances the restoration process to create an accurate digital image of the teeth and what the patient will need to restore his or her smile.
CEREC Zirconia is a material with high flexural strength, biocompatibility and tissue-conserving preparation.
Cone Beam Technology
Cone beam technology enhances the process for gathering information and images of teeth in order to provide a much more precise treatment.
Cosmetic dentistry is generally used to refer to any dental work that improves the appearance (though not necessarily the function) of a person’s teeth, gums and/or bite.
Crown lengthening is a surgical procedure that increases the extent of a tooth structure for restorative or esthetic purposes.
A crown is an artificial tooth, usually consisting of porcelain, which covers the top of the implant to provide people with an aesthetically pleasing and fully-functional tooth.