What is Gum Contouring?

When most people think of improving their smile with a dentist’s help, they consider whitening or perhaps veneers. Don’t overlook your gums and the important role they play in creating your signature smile. Gum contouring is a process sometimes used to restore tissue after gingivitis creates recession issues, but it’s more widely recommended as a cosmetic procedure for improving the appearance of your teeth. Processes like a gum lift or a gum reduction treatment can change your smile for the better with only a minimal recovery time. Find out more and discuss your options with your dentist during your next visit.

Causes of Uneven Gum Lines

The gum tissue surrounds each tooth to keep the roots covered and protected from bacteria. Even when they’re healthy and performing their job properly, your gums can become a little receded or overgrown. Excessive gum tissue is often caused simply by genetics, but it can occur as you age or due to certain prescription drugs. When gum tissue recedes, it’s often a sign of gingivitis or periodontal disease. In other cases, it’s simply due to aging or habits like smoking. Recession is more serious because it can expose tooth roots. Getting a gum lift to replace lost tissue can play a protective role in addition to improving the look of your smile.

Is Gum Contouring Elective or Necessary?

Like many other dental procedures, gum contouring often plays both cosmetic and health-improving roles for the patient. It may be considered a necessary surgery if you have periodontal disease and need your gums restored to protect tooth roots and prevent losses. Yet it will still offer cosmetic benefits no matter why it is done. For patients whose gums are healthy but cover too much of their teeth, gum contouring is largely an elective procedure. Still, exposing more of each tooth will create a brighter and more visible smile that boosts your self-esteem and self-confidence.

Who Handles the Contouring Work?

While this is a mild form of dental surgery, it’s usually completed right in the dentist’s office. Depending on the exact treatment needed, tools like scalpels and lasers are utilized to quickly adjust the gum line with little impact on your overall health. Plenty of anesthetic is used to ensure there are only a few days of minor soreness after the procedure. Most patients find that over-the-counter painkillers are enough to get them back to their normal routine. In the case of extensive gum grafting, the work may be handled by an oral surgeon specialized in gum procedures instead. This falls outside the usual scope of gum contouring though, which is primarily focused on making small adjustments.

What Types of Gum Adjustments Are Available?

For patients with too much gum tissue, a reduction or reshaping procedure is usually recommended. Gum reduction involves removing just a small amount of the edge of the tissue, revealing more of the teeth hidden by it. It’s also known as crown lengthening because it exposes more of the crown area of each tooth. Your gums will recover quickly and heal in just a few days. If you feel like you’ve always had teeth that are a little long or your gums have receded with age, you may need a gum lift instead. This method of gum reshaping involves taking tissue from other areas of the gum and adding them to the edge to raise the line in certain areas. Gum grafts like this tend to heal a little more slowly than reductions, but you should be back to eating and drinking like normal in a week or two.

Other Reasons to Get Your Gums Contoured

Aside from improving your smile or dealing with tissue loss, there are a few potential health benefits to this kind of contouring. First, excess gum tissue tends to trap food particles and encourage bacterial growth which leads to gingivitis. It makes it difficult to effectively floss, especially around the back teeth. Your dentist may recommend a gum reduction for that reason alone to head off gum disease issues. Second, having “short” teeth because of a high gum line makes it harder to fit dental devices like crowns, bridges, and veneers. Exposing a little more of the tooth crown can widen your options for dental restoration. Finally, cavities or fractures can develop in a tooth under a high gum line. The dentist will need to remove the gum tissue to restore the tooth’s stability anyway, so they might as well create an even gum line by contouring the surrounding tissue at the same time.

If you’re still not sure if gum contouring is right for your smile, schedule a consultation with us here at Decker Dental. We’re experts in gum contouring in Enumclaw WA and can easily tell you how you might benefit from this kind of treatment.

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