Cosmetic and Plastic Gum Surgery

Here at DC Perio & Implants we realize that there are many elements that make up an ideal smile; bright, healthy-looking teeth immediately come to mind. But the gum tissue that surrounds and supports those teeth also plays a big role in how appealing your smile will look. Without a healthy, firm, and pink gum tissue you will not achieve that beautiful smile that you are looking for. There are various plastic and cosmetic issues involving gum (gingival) tissue. For example, your smile may look “gummy” — meaning you seem to display too much gum tissue when you smile, or your teeth appear too short. Sometimes it’s the opposite problem — your teeth appear too long because your gum tissue has receded (pulled back), exposing tooth-root surfaces that were covered at one time with your gum tissue. Or, you may have an uneven gum line, meaning gum tissue covers some of your teeth more than others. All these cosmetic gum problems can be successfully treated with cosmetic plastic gum surgery procedures performed at DC Perio & Implants.

Benefits of Cosmetic Gum Surgery

Cosmetic gum surgery may be performed for some of the following reasons:
  • To cover unsightly gums or exposed root surfaces
  • To improve the appearance of teeth that look too long
  • To improve gum health
  • To reduce the risk of root decay

Cosmetic Gum Problems

Excess Tissue. At DC Perio & Implants we have observed that a gummy smile can be caused by excessive gum tissue covering more enamel surface of a tooth’s crown (upper portion) than normal. If that is the case, a procedure known as “esthetic crown lengthening” can be performed, in which gum tissue (and sometimes a small amount of bone tissue) is removed to expose more tooth surface. Receding Gums. Sometimes your gums can shrink down (recede), exposing a portion of your tooth roots. This causes a cosmetic problem because root surfaces, which have no enamel covering, tend to appear more yellow than the crowns of your teeth. Also, exposed roots can be more sensitive to cold or touch, and can be at greater risk of decay. Our periodontal surgeons at DC Perio & Implants offer various gum-grafting procedures that can cover exposed roots, all of which involve moving gingival (gum) tissue from one site in the mouth to another. For example, roots can be covered with tissue from the roof of your mouth, which is of the same type; or adjacent (nearby) tissue can be moved over to cover an exposed root. Sometimes laboratory-processed tissue from another donor can even be used. Pin-hole Technique has also been implemented during the last decade at DC Perio & Implants to address gum recession. All of these options can be discussed with you in more detail. Uneven Gum Line. If you have an uneven gum line where some teeth are covered by more tissue than others, it is often possible to recontour (reshape) the tissue for a very pleasing effect. This can be done conventionally with a surgical scalpel or with newer dental laser technology. The advantage of a laser is that it seals the tissue as it sculpts it, making the procedure more comfortable and requiring a shorter healing time. At DC Perio & Implants we offer the latest technology available by imple-menting the use fo lasers.

Types of Cosmetic Gum Surgery

Two types of cosmetic gum surgery available are:
1. Gingival Lift
A gingival lift, also known as a gum lift or gum contouring, is a cosmetic dental procedure designed to reduce and reshape highly visible gums. For patients who have always been bothered by having a gummy smile, this treatment can correct the problem and offer an aesthetic improvement. Lasers are one effective way to perform a gingival lift. Laser precision allows the dentist to reshape the gums to create better symmetry in the smile while cutting back on excess gum tissue. Lasers only remove the targeted area of the gums, leaving all surrounding tissue unharmed. A laser gingival lift also offers patients a more comfortable experience since it causes very little pain and therefore requires only topical anesthesia. In addition, laser treatments result in almost no bleeding and tis-sues tend to heal more quickly than after traditional surgery. However, the periodontists at DC Perio & Implants will determine if this is the best way to achieve the goals or a more conventional approach is the treatment of choice.
2. Gum Grafting
Gum grafting is a surgical procedure that helps protect the tooth roots and improve the appearance of the smile for patients who are self-conscious about receded gums caused by gingivitis. The gums help protect the mouth from bacteria and trauma while also covering the ends of the teeth for a pleasing smile. Gum recession is therefore both a cosmetic and a medical concern. During the gum grafting procedure, tissue is usually taken from the roof of the mouth, then placed in the receded area of the gum in order to cover the exposed root. In some cases, if the patient does not have sufficient available tissue, the graft may be taken from a donor source. The graft is then attached to the natural gum and carefully sutured into place where it not only helps correct the appearance of teeth that seem too long and affect the smile, but also reduces further gum recession and bone loss. The gum grafting procedure can be performed on one or more teeth to help even out the gum line or to restore the appearance of the mouth and reduce the risk of gum and bone collapse after a tooth has been lost. In many cases, cosmetic gum surgery reshapes excess gum and bone tissue. It also reduces sensitivity of exposed roots to hot or cold foods. Most patients are more than satisfied with the results of their procedure and enjoy a healthy and beautiful smile after treatment. Patients considering cosmetic gum surgery should speak to one of our periodontists at DC Perio & Implants to see which procedure is the best option for their individual condition.

What to Expect

All cosmetic gum surgery can be performed at our dental office at DC Perio & Implants — and it usually requires only a local anesthetic (numbing shot). In fact, for laser surgery you may need only a topical anesthetic applied in gel form. If you would like a deeper level of relaxation, you can have oral or an IV sedative; but if this is required, you will need a ride home. Laser surgery leaves no open wounds and causes minimal, if any, discomfort, though the anatomy of the area may preclude laser use. An examination is required to determine whether conventional or laser treatment is in your best interests. Grafts may take longer to heal, particularly if tissue is taken from the roof of your mouth. Grafting is only necessary if gum recession is a concern. However for cosmetic concerns grafting is not a necessity. If that’s the case, you will have two sites that need to heal: the donor site from which the tissue was taken, and the recipient site where the tissue was attached. Both of these sites will require stitches, usually of the dissolving type. You will need to eat a softer diet and avoid chewing on that side of your mouth for a few days. Though full healing may take a few weeks, you will be able to resume your normal activities the very next day. Whichever kind of cosmetic gum surgery you may need, the procedures are routine and predictable — and they can do wonders for your smile! As cosmetic surgery has become more mainstream, patients are seeking surgical options that will help them achieve their physical and aesthetic goals. Periodontics and dentistry are no exceptions to this trend. Many people who are unhappy with their gums and the way their gums affect their smile, may choose to have cosmetic gum surgery to improve their appearance. If that is a concern of yours and you would like to achieve better aesthetic goals please contact us at DC Perio & Implants and we would be happy to discuss your goals and objectives with you.

Armin Abron, DDS, MS

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