Aura Dental

Gum Contouring


Many patients seeking a cosmetic improvement to their smile have little or nothing wrong with their teeth. Their concerns are their gums appearing too visible, or simply too big, when they smile.

"Gummy" smiles are a common problem, caused by overgrowth of the gum tissue that then covers the teeth. This can be caused by a variety of things, including heredity (from your family) health conditions, and even the use of some common high blood pressure medications.

These reasons can cause a smile to look crooked or lop-sided, or make the teeth seem almost smaller than the gums. Such problems can be easily corrected with a simple procedure known as a cosmetic gum lifting or contouring.

A local anaesthetic is applied to the gums, and a laser (a ray of pure concentrated light) is used to trim away the small amounts of excess gum tissue and reshape the edges of the gums above the six front teeth that form the smile. The laser seals the blood vessels in the gums so that the tissue can heal quickly with relatively little discomfort to the patient.

Of course, there are times when reshaping the tissue alone is not enough. In those circumstances the bone at the front of the root of the teeth may have to be reduced. This is done because the gum edges need to be about three millimetres from the edge of the bone. If you don't reduce the bone, the tissue will grow back. This procedure, while more complicated than a simple gum lift, is still relatively comfortable when done properly.

Gum contouring is not without risk, however. If you remove too much gum tissue, then the mouth might never heal properly. It can lead to swelling and a need for further treatment to correct the error.

  1. Excess gum tissue covering the teeth
  2. Having worn-down teeth
  3. Having a high lip line
  4. Hyperactive lip elevator muscle
  5. Certain genetic conditions affecting the jaw
  6. Altered passive eruption

The treatment will depend on the cause. For excessive gum tissue and worn teeth, crown lengthening is a common treatment. This involves removing and reshaping excess gum tissue and bone to expose more of your natural teeth. This can be performed on one tooth or several teeth, and is also sometimes performed before restorative treatment such as crowns. In some cases, laser treatment is available to remove excess gum tissue.

If your teeth are very worn-down or naturally short, your dentist may recommend dental veneers. These could be made of porcelain or a composite, tooth-coloured material, and will restore your teeth to their natural length.

Orthodontic treatment such as invisible braces can be used for some genetic conditions affecting the jaw, while surgery can correct hyperactive lip elevator muscles. In some cases, Botox can also be used to control these muscles, although this treatment would require repeating every few months.

To discuss the best options to cure your gummy smile, you should speak to your dentist today.

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