What is Gum Reshaping?

Gum reshaping is an invasive surgery that reshapes the gum tissue. It is a cosmetic procedure that can give patients with uneven gums a much more even and attractive smile.

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This surgery is traditionally performed with a scalpel but now is often done with a laser. The laser cuts the tissue and cauterizes it in the process, minimizing bleeding and discomfort.

The Procedure

Gum reshaping, also known as tissue sculpting or gum contouring, is a cosmetic dental procedure that can give your smile a more balanced look by trimming and reshaping your gum line. It can help correct problems such as a gummy smile, uneven gums or teeth that appear small because the gums are covering too much of them. It can also address a receding gum line, which can make your teeth seem too long or expose them to potential damage and decay.

The process usually begins with the dentist administering a local anesthetic to numb the area that will be treated. Next, the dentist uses a scalpel or laser tool to remove excess gum tissue and reshape it to create a new, more even gum line. This typically takes about an hour.

After the procedure, patients should avoid vigorous physical activity to prevent increased blood flow to the area, which can cause swelling and bleeding. Patients should also rinse their mouth with a warm salt water solution or an antiseptic mouthwash to keep the area clean. They should avoid eating hard, spicy or hot foods to prevent the gums from getting irritated and should follow a soft diet until their gums heal. Over-the-counter pain relievers can be taken to manage discomfort if needed.

In some cases, the dentist may place stitches to aid the healing process. These are usually dissolvable and will disappear on their own, but if not, the dentist may need to remove them during a follow-up appointment.

Recovery

Gum reshaping is often used for cosmetic purposes, but it can be done for therapeutic reasons too. For example, patients who have a gum recession might need to have tissue removed from another area of the mouth and grafted to their receding gum line to help lengthen their teeth and reduce sensitivity. Additionally, people who have had braces or other orthodontic treatments might need their gum lines reshaped to match the new positioning of their teeth.

Recovery from the procedure can vary based on how much gum tissue is removed or grafted, but patients can expect some tenderness and swelling following surgery. Pain and discomfort can be reduced by applying ice packs to the treatment site for 15 minutes at a time and taking over-the-counter pain relievers such as Tylenol or Advil. It’s also important to follow your dental professional’s post-surgery dietary guidelines and brush gently around the surgical site.

Gum reshaping is usually performed by a periodontist, a dentist who has completed additional training focused on the gum tissues and other supportive structures of the mouth. This specialized training allows the doctor to work with these delicate areas with precision, decreasing the chance of infection and ensuring the best results possible. However, some general dentists are trained in gum contouring as well. Whether you choose to have your gums reshaped by a periodontist or general dentist, the results will be permanent.

Pain

Gum contouring or reshaping is not an especially painful procedure if it is done with lasers. However, if a scalpel is used for more extensive gum surgery such as a graft or lift, it can be more painful.

Once the area is numb, the dentist or periodontist will use specialized instruments such as scalpels, lasers and/or radiosurgery devices to trim away excess gum tissue, reshape the gum line and fix any hollow areas that can trap bacteria. The dentist may also place stitches to help the healing process. These can be dissolvable or they might need to be removed during a follow-up visit.

It is important to rest after the surgery. Getting enough sleep and avoiding strenuous activity can help prevent excessive bleeding, pain and swelling and shorten the recovery window. It is also advisable to eat only soft foods for a few days. This will help the gums heal quickly and prevent food particles from causing irritation to sensitive gum tissue.

People with overly low or high gums have a hard time showing more of their teeth which can make them look shorter than they should be and create the image of a “gummy smile.” In addition to cosmetic benefits, trimming back excess gum tissue can lower tooth decay risk by reducing plaque build-up, reduce the likelihood of developing gingivitis or periodontal disease and increase the longevity of dental work.

Cost

Gum reshaping is a procedure done in-office by either a cosmetic dentist or periodontist, and it’s a simple and quick process that usually lasts no more than two hours. Patients receive local anesthesia to numb the gum area before the dentist begins the surgery.

The dentist will use either a scalpel or a laser to remove and sculpt the excess tissue around the teeth. The process is fairly painless, but patients can experience discomfort as the gums heal after the procedure. This can be managed with ice packs and pain relievers, as needed.

Besides making teeth appear longer and more symmetrical, gum contouring can also help fight tooth decay by reducing the amount of bacteria that gets trapped under the gums. It’s common for a patient to have a lot of extra gum tissue, and this can trap food particles that are hard to clean and lead to bacteria and decay. Removing the excess gum tissue can also help a patient who has gingivitis or periodontal disease by allowing them to floss and brush more effectively and promoting healing.

While the majority of gum reshaping procedures are done for cosmetic reasons, some patients have dental insurance that covers the procedure if it’s deemed a medical necessity. The best way to find out if your dental insurance will cover a gum lift is to visit an experienced cosmetic dentist or periodontist and discuss the procedure with them.