Improving A Gummy Smile

Is your smile more red than white? Large gums or short teeth can give your mouth an imbalanced, "gummy" look. Fortunately, periodontal options can give you a brand new smile.

Excess gum tissue can create the appearance of short teeth and a "gummy" smile—and make your oral health more difficult to manage. A periodontist, or gum specialist, can remove excess gum tissue to give your mouth a new look. A number of factors can cause "gumminess":

    · Inadequate Normal Gum Recession or Altered Passive Eruption: As the teeth erupt (grow out of the gums), the gums recede upwards—most of the time. In some cases, the gums remain and cover part of the teeth, making normal-sized teeth look short.

    · Irritation from Braces: If a patient has excessive gum tissue at the time of orthodontic treatment, the gums can become irritated by the braces, in spite of proper oral care.

    · Mouth Breathing: Nasal or adenoid problems can lead a patient to breathe through the mouth, especially at night. This habit dries out the gum tissue, leaving it susceptible to disease and overgrowth.

    · Medication: Medicine such as Diclatin and Cyclosporine can lead to gum tissue overgrowth.

    · High Lip Lines: The shape of the patient's mouth can sometimes bare more of the gum tissue than is visible in the average person's mouth.

Gummy smiles can also be caused by attrition, a condition where the teeth have been severely worn down. This case is one where the teeth seriously are too short. Bad habits such as nighttime teeth grinding can cause this wear. This problem can be corrected by tooth lengthening surgery, topped off with caps or crowns to cover the newly lengthened teeth.

Gingivectomy/Gingivoplasty. Gum tissue is surgically excised. The underlying bone is not exposed. A periodontal dressing covers the teeth and gums post-surgery to protect them while healing. The patient may experience pain during the procedure, but usually not after.

Flap Surgery. Some of the underlying bone is removed. This surgery is required for short or worn down teeth, or for thick or irregular bone contours (the bone at the meeting point of the gum and teeth). Post-operative care includes sutures, or stitches, and a periodontal dressing to cover the healing gums. This surgery tends to bring more discomfort than a gingivectomy.

Crown Lengthening. The dental equivalent to trimming cuticles. A cosmetic dentist or periodontist shifts your gums to a position that reveals more of your teeth and less of your gums. This procedure can also be called gum lift or gum re-contouring, and may involve cutting out gum and bone around the teeth. In cases where the tooth is badly damaged or decayed, the goal of the crown lengthening procedure may simply be to expose enough of the tooth so that a restoration procedure can be performed.

Laser Gum Surgery. A periodontist uses a laser to remove excess gum tissue. The results are similar to a gingivectomy.

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