A Noninvasive Solution for a Gummy Smile

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    Jul 24, 2014
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A Noninvasive Solution for a Gummy Smile Photo by Jamie Koonce

Does a large amount of gum tissue show when you smile or laugh? Often referred to as a “gummy smile,” an excessive amount of gum tissue can be an embarrassing problem. Sometimes too much gum tissue covering your teeth can also cause teeth to look too short or unusually small. Fortunately, there are solutions that will improve the aesthetic appearance of your smile by reducing the excessive gum tissue.

The traditional procedure for treating a gummy smile is periodontal surgery. The excessive tissue is simply snipped away by a periodontist, stitches are placed, and recovery time is usually around 4 - 6 weeks. A newer, less invasive procedure is laser recontouring surgery. For this procedure, a cosmetic dentist uses a laser to reshape and re-sculpt the gingival tissue in a process also termed crown lengthening. The result is that teeth will look taller, and gum tissue will be reduced past the gumline.

You may be wondering what causes some people to have excessive gingival tissue showing past their gumline. The truth is that most of the time, it is caused by genetic or epigenetic factors. If you have a gummy smile, it is likely a trait that runs in your family. Other causes can include some childhood illnesses and prescription drugs taken around the time that the adult teeth were forming. The opposite of a gummy smile -- recessed gum tissue -- is most often caused by illness, periodontal disease, bad dental hygiene, and edentulism.

Laser gum recontouring is a simple, technologically advanced, minimally invasive procedure for the treatment of excessive gingival tissue showing past the gumline. However, most insurances do not regard the treatment as being medically necessary. It is primarily viewed as a cosmetic procedure unless the gingival tissue is so excessive that it interferes with the patient’s ability to eat or maintain proper dental hygiene. In some cases, your insurance company may regard laser recontouring as crown lengthening and pocket reduction; this might be considered a covered procedure.

While surgical reduction on gingival tissue is done by a periodontist, laser gum recontouring can be done by a cosmetic dentist in NYC. Not all cosmetic dentists perform laser gum recontouring. Some may refer their patients to a periodontist for traditional surgery. Always check with your cosmetic dentist first before signing anything to make sure he or she offers the procedures you desire as part of your smile design treatment.

Cosmetic gum recontouring is often done in addition to the placement of porcelain veneers in the context of smile design and cosmetic dentistry. The cost of laser gum recontouring may be included in the price of a full set of veneers or it may be an additional cost. It may depend on the amount of gum tissue that needs to be recontoured, what other services you are receiving, and the way in which your cosmetic dentist bills patients. Do not rely on dental insurance to cover cosmetic procedures.

Your dentist in New York will likely explain the laser recontouring procedure before getting started. Most dentists will draw a line showing exactly where the new gum line will be after the procedure. A local anesthetic is used so the patient will not feel any pain as the laser is used. Some bleeding will occur, but it is not as much as would occur under normal surgical conditions with a scalpel and knife. The entire procedure usually takes only a few minutes, and pressure is gently applied to the area to stop any bleeding.

Recovery time is between 24 - 72 hours. You may notice some tenderness in the area for a couple of days, but the area should rapidly heal. Plan to eat soft foods for a couple of days so the area will not become inflamed. Some good choices are eggs, yogurt, smoothies, cottage cheese, ice cream, and soups. Call your dentist in NYC promptly if you experience any complications.

Author's Profile

Jamie Koonce is passionate about dental procedures and associated with experienced cosmetic Dentist in NYC. She writes a lot. Read her articles to get interesting and engaging information about dental health. She relies a lot on Glassman Dental Care to educate her readers.

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