If you have a tendency of wanting to hide your teeth when you smile, and you often have a closed-mouth smile in family pictures, you may have thought about having some cosmetic dental work done. There are all kinds of treatments that can be done to the teeth: reshaping, straightening, whitening and replacing. But, the health of the soft tissue of the gums is actually just as important, if not more important, than the actual teeth.
Believe it or not, the size and shape of the soft tissue in the gums can actually make your teeth appear as if they are too small, too large or out of proportion all together. Reshaping, sometimes referred to as contouring, the gums can correct tissue that appears too low or high in relation to the size and shape of your teeth to give you a brand new smile.
What Are The Causes Of Uneven Gums?
Gum recession is caused by a variety of factors. Primarily, having a disproportionate amount of gums showing in lieu of teeth is caused by genetics. Your parents, siblings or grandparents may also share the trait of having a gummy smile. Certain health problems, ailments, illnesses or diseases can cause the gums to recede. Additionally, certain prescription drugs can cause the gums to take on a different shape.
When the gums are receding, the tissue is actually pulling back from the tooth itself and will eventually show the tooth's root if left untreated. Untreated gum recession can actually lead to tooth decay and even loss. Gum reshaping is generally considered a cosmetic procedure; most of the time it is not a medical emergency. Reshaping is done to enhance the look of your smile and make it more even and aesthetically appealing. Some people, however, undergo dental gum contouring as a part of other necessary dental surgeries like regenerative surgery, tooth pocket reduction and the lengthening of crowns.
How Is The Surgery Performed?
Gum contouring is typically done right in your dentist's office. Most dentists use a combination of laser technology, scalpels and radiosurgery to perform the reshaping. Some dentists prefer one method over the other; other dentists utilize all three and determine which method is best on a case by case basis.
When you see that a scalpel may be involved with the surgery, it can be intimidating. However, the procedure is actually minimally invasive. You can expect to have a little bit of pain and sensitivity in the few days following the surgery, but these symptoms should subside within a few days. Many dentists prefer to use lasers, when possible, for gum reshaping. The healing time and recovery is lessened with laser gum contouring versus using a scalpel. With a scalpel, sutures are involved, and the road to recovery is a little more painful and arduous.
Before the surgery, your dentist will outline the specific details of your procedure. Some dentists will mark the new gum line with a pen so you can get a rough idea of how your new smile will look. There is pain with the procedure, but you will be administered local anesthetic for the pain during the surgery. In some cases, bone at the front of the root of some of your teeth will need to be removed. Your dentist will discuss all of this with you prior to surgery, or during a consultation, so that you know exactly what to expect.
Recovering After The Surgery
On the actual day of your surgery, you should be prepared to have someone drive you to and from the procedure and attend to your after-care needs. You will be under the influence of anesthesia, so you will want to refrain from operating any heavy machinery, doing any heavy lifting or engaging in high-impact activities.
It can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks for your gums to heal completely. Your dentist will give you specific details pertinent to after-care instructions. There are some general instructions you can expect to have to follow for the first couple of weeks after surgery. You can take an over-the-counter pain reliever if you are experiencing any pain or discomfort. Refrain from taking aspirin, however, because aspirin increases the risk of bleeding.
Have a variety of soft foods on hand to eat after you come out of surgery. Soft, cool foods like eggs, pasta, soft vegetables, yogurt, applesauce, pudding, ice cream, macaroni and cheese and mashed potatoes are great choices. Just make sure the foods are cooled down before consuming them; excessive heat can cause bleeding and complications. Also, be sure to avoid foods that are crunchy and hard to chew. Spicy foods and anything with seeds or nuts should be avoided for the first couple of weeks after your gum reshaping procedure.
Your dentist will also have specific instructions on how to brush your teeth after your surgery. The type of brushing will vary depending on the types of instruments used to perform your surgery. Surgeries involving scalpels will require more delicate brushing than procedures performed with lasers. Proper care after the surgery will greatly reduce the risk of your gum tissue relapsing. If this happens, you may need to have to repeat the procedure.
Dr. Marc Lazare is a celebrity dentist performing a vast range of cosmetic, restorative and regenerative dental procedures including the complex biomimetic dentistry, teeth whitening, veneers, dental implants, and gum reshaping. His level of professionalism and integrity combines with his innovation, continuing education and leading-edge technology to bring you a caring and comfortable experience from beginning to end.