Even if you have perfect teeth, having receding or overhanging gums can make you self-conscious about your smile. A gummy smile can be caused by the natural position of the jaw or overgrowth of gum tissue, and can be treated by laser gum contouring. Receding gums are the opposite problem and are commonly caused by gum disease and smoking as well as brushing your teeth too hard. You can prevent gum recession by maintaining good oral health but if you have already developed the condition you may need a gum graft.
If your gums are too prominent or look to big when you smile, then you may be a victim of the ‘gummy’ smile. Gummy smiles are a fairly common problem, caused by the natural position of the jaw and, in some cases, simply overgrowth of the gum tissue. This can be hereditary or caused by other factors such as taking certain medications for high blood pressure and epilepsy. If you have a gummy smile, then you could be a suitable candidate for laser gum contouring.
Receding gums, or gingival recession as it is otherwise known, is a loss of gum tissue resulting in an exposure in the roots of the teeth. Gum recession is a common problem in the over 40s but can occur at any age. Receding gums and looking ‘long in the tooth’ are most commonly caused by gum disease and smoking. Brushing too hard but can also be an attributing factor as can inadequate brushing or flossing or gum disease. If you have receding gums, then you may be a candidate for a gum graft.
If you are concerned about either of these problems, book a consultation with your dentists to discuss your treatment options.
Laser gum contouring begins with a local anaesthetic being applied to the gums to numb them. Your dentist will then use a powerful laser light to trim the gums and remove the excess tissue. This allows the dentist to reshape the edges of the gums and expose more tooth, making your smile look less ‘gummy’ or ‘lopsided’. In most cases the dentist will only remove excess gum from around the front teeth as these are the most prominent when you smile. Because the laser also seals the blood vessels in the gums as it cuts, the gums tend to heal quite quickly after this procedure and you should get minimal bleeding. In some cases, dentists may need to employ some additional techniques, such as bone reduction at the front of the tooth root to prevent re-growth of the gum material, to achieve the best result.
A gum graft, or gingival graft, is usually performed by a periodontist because it is a highly specialist procedure. Your gums will be numbed with a local anaesthetic before your dentist removes a small piece of gum tissue, usually from the roof of your mouth, and transplants it to the area where the gums are receding, to cover the exposed root surface. The transplanted gum tissue will then heal around the root surface, improving the aesthetics of your smile and reducing the risk of further gum recession in the future.
Gum contouring is a relatively safe procedure, which can greatly enhance your smile. In the majority of cases the gums heal quickly and with minimal discomfort. In older techniques using a scalpel there was a greater risk of prolonged healing, bleeding and infection but because modern techniques use a laser, which seals the blood vessels during treatment, this minimizes the risk of infection and bleeding and allows for a speedy recovery. However as with all procedures there are some risks involved. The main risk of gum contouring is removing too much tissue, which can cause the mouth to not heal properly. If this happens you may need additional treatment to correct the problem.
Gum grafting is generally considered to be a very safe treatment with highly predictable results in the right candidates. Your gums may be sore or swollen for up to a week afterwards but this should not interfere with your daily activities.