A gummy smile is one in which an abnormal amount of pink gum tissue is visible above the upper front teeth when the person smiles. This is a relatively unattractive appearance that many people dislike. It can give the illusion of the teeth being far too short or too small for one’s face.
The good news is that we can fix this problem quite simply with a procedure called a gingivectomy.
What is a Gingivectomy?
The word gingivectomy simply means the removal of gingiva or gum tissues. Periodontists perform gingivectomy procedures for a variety of reasons, and cosmetically recontouring the gums is one of them. The goal of a cosmetic gingivectomy is to “uncover” the entire tooth, which too much gum tissue currently covers, causing the gummy smile.
Prior to a gingivectomy procedure, your doctor will take precise measurements of your teeth and gums for pre-operative planning. The actual gum tissue removal may involve the use of a dental laser or a traditional scalpel instrument. Typically, we do not have to place stitches afterward.
Who is a Candidate for a Gingivectomy?
A gingivectomy is the right procedure for uncovering healthy enamel that has too much gum tissue covering it- aka a gummy smile. It is not the right treatment option for someone who has teeth that have been shortened by years of heavy teeth clenching or grinding and simply desires more visible tooth structure.
In order to know if a patient is a candidate for cosmetic gingivectomy, the dentist will take close-up high-definition x-rays of the teeth in question, as well as the measurements discussed earlier. The x-rays will confirm the presence of healthy enamel below the gum tissue that simply requires uncovering. If you see too much pink gum tissue when you smile, ask your doctor if you are a candidate for a cosmetic gingivectomy procedure.
How Long is the Recovery from a Gingivectomy?
A gingivectomy is a type of gum surgery. As with any surgery, there is a recovery and healing phase involved. As you might imagine, the amount of gum tissue removed has an effect on the length of recovery. Very small amounts of gum tissue can actually be removed with no bleeding and minimal post-operative pain.
When your dentist must remove a substantial amount of gum tissues to uncover the teeth, you can expect a lengthier recovery period with some lingering discomfort for seven to ten days.
Using a dental laser can decrease the recovery period as lasers reduce inflammation and promote faster healing. When a gingivectomy involves a laser rather than a scalpel, there is also less bleeding at the surgery site.
The postoperative management of the healing gum tissues is essential to a predictable long-term result. You must strictly follow your doctor’s post-op instructions for cleaning the surgical site and managing any plaque buildup. An extra-soft surgical toothbrush is a must, and your surgeon may also recommend applying an antibiotic mouth rinse directly to the surgical site with a Q-tip during the first week after surgery. This will inhibit plaque buildup and protect the area from bacterial irritation and inflammation.
More Questions about Gummy Smiles?
Call Empire Dental Specialty Group today to schedule a consultation with our periodontal gum specialists! We can answer any question you have about gum recontouring and assess your specific situation. We love improving smiles by removing excess gum tissue.