When you imagine a beautiful smile, do you see pearly-white, perfectly-straight teeth? Most people do. But, did you know that excess or diseased gum tissue can significantly impact the appearance of your smile? Indeed, you may have beautifully uniform teeth, but irregular gum tissue may make them seem small, misshapen, or unhealthy. Luckily, cosmetic and restorative gum contouring can help.
If you’re looking to upgrade your smile, then contact the team at Lakewood Dental Group. Drs. Mihir Patel and Shaun Sigurdson will gladly help you find cosmetic and restorative treatments to enhance your image and strengthen your smile. Want to learn more? Simply call (214) 827-1885 or submit a message to our Dallas, TX, team online here.
If you’ve never heard of gum contouring, then stick around. In this post, Dr. Patel and Dr. Sigurdson explain what gum contouring is and why you might need it.
What is gum contouring?
Gum contouring (also called gum shaping) is an in-office treatment that entails the removal of excess or diseased gingival tissue. The amount of tissue that our team removes is dependent upon the patient’s oral health standing and aesthetic goals.
What’s the difference between gum contouring and crown lengthening?
Dental professionals often use gum contouring and crown lengthening interchangeably, but there are some minor differences. For example, gum contouring is usually a cosmetic procedure, whereas crown lengthening is typically a restorative treatment.
Both procedures remove problematic gum tissue, but crown lengthening is often more invasive than gum contouring. This is because crown lengthening may require the removal of some bone tissue while gum contouring does not.
Why should I shape my gums?
In most cases, gum shaping is purely cosmetic. This means that it is an elective procedure that patients can pursue to revamp and restructure their smiles.
However, there are other practical reasons to contour one’s gums, including:
- Treating cavities below the gum line
- Repairing cracked or fractured tooth roots
- Creating more surface area for dental restorations to rest upon
- Treating gum disease
Ultimately, the decision to contour your gums is up to you. However, our team may suggest a restorative crown lengthening procedure to help patients combat advancing gum disease.
Crown Lengthening for Gum Disease
Gum disease (also called periodontitis or periodontal disease) is sneaky. The initial stage of the infection (called gingivitis) is often too subtle for most patients to notice. And, because gum disease is so sneaky, many patients are unaware that they have it until it is too late.
Leaving gum disease untreated is risky. The oral bacteria responsible for periodontitis can grow out of control, which can have disastrous effects on patients’ oral and overall health. In fact, gum disease is one of the primary causes of permanent tooth loss.
But, gum disease doesn’t just stop at the mouth–it has far-reaching consequences throughout the body, too. Indeed, experts link gum disease to serious systemic health conditions, such as:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Neurological disorders
- Pregnancy complications
- Cardiovascular disease
- Respiratory conditions
Shockingly, that’s not all. Research suggests that males with gum disease are:
- Almost 50% more likely to develop kidney cancer
- 54% more susceptible to developing pancreatic cancer
- 30% more likely to develop cancers of the blood
Clearly, gum disease is a pervasive condition. And, while gingivitis (the initial stage of gum disease) may be reversible with better oral hygiene, the advanced stages of gum disease are not reversible. Instead, patients may have to trim away infected gum tissue to reinstate their oral health.
In effect, crown lengthening is like a hard reset for patients’ smiles. The procedure carefully removes infected tissue, which allows the gums to heal without continued interference from harmful bacteria.
Gum Contouring for a Gummy Smile
Gummy smiles are usually no cause for concern. However, some patients with extra gum tissue may feel self-conscious. This may be because excess gingival tissue can make their teeth appear stubby, misshapen, or unhealthy, even if they are not.
There are many reasons why patients might have a gummy smile, including:
- Gingival hyperplasia (gingival overgrowth)
- Vitamin deficiencies
- Diabetes mellitus
- Autoimmune disorders
- Certain medications, like calcium channel blockers and anti-seizure medications
Whatever the cause, cosmetic gum contouring with our dentists in Dallas allows patients to tailor their smiles to their exact specifications. As a result, patients can feel more confident speaking, laughing, and eating with their newly upgraded smiles.
Does gum contouring hurt?
With medical-grade numbing agents and local anesthesia, the gum shaping procedure is virtually painless. However, it is normal for patients to experience some light pressure during the procedure.
Following the procedure, patients may notice some minimal bleeding, swelling, and discomfort. These symptoms should reside after 48 to 72 hours, but patients can combat complications by:
- Taking over-the-counter pain medications
- Applying ice packs to the face
- Reducing activity for approximately three days
- Rinsing with an antimicrobial mouthwash
- Choosing softer foods (like soups, stews, and smoothies) during recovery
- Continuing gentle oral hygiene practices (i.e. brushing and flossing)
How long does it take to heal from gum shaping?
Patients may see a marked improvement in their gum tissue within 72 hours. However, it may take several days or weeks for the delicate tissue to heal completely. To hasten the recovery process, patients should:
- Limit physical activity for approximately three days
- Avoid tobacco products, including smokeless tobacco products
- Avoid alcohol
- Limit added sugar in foods
- Avoid overly hot, spicy, or acidic foods and drinks
While postoperative infections are rare, patients should be aware of the warning signs. Contact our Lakewood dentists if you notice any of the following symptoms after your gum contouring procedure:
- Noticeably red and swollen gums, even after 72 hours
- Gums that are warm to the touch
- Increasing pain
Schedule a Consultation in Dallas, TX
Whether it’s cosmetic or restorative, gum contouring can help you get the healthy, stunning smile that you deserve. If you’re ready to verify your candidacy, then schedule a consultation with our compassionate team today.
Patients can reach the team at Lakewood Dental Group by calling (214) 827-1885 or by sending a request online here.