Periodontal plastic surgery, or mucogingival surgery, involves the management of gingival deficits and deformities that may be preventing you from having the smile you always wanted. Among these are:
- A “gummy” smile
- Uneven gum line due to “short” teeth or receding gums (“long” teeth)
- Lost or “collapsed” gums due to missing teeth
- “Black holes” between your teeth, crowns, bridges, or implants
- The exposure of unerupted teeth
Why should you be concerned?
Because the presence of these conditions causes not only cosmetic concerns, such as “long” teeth and “black holes” between teeth and bridges, but also dental health concerns, like progressive gingival (gum) irritation and/or bone loss, root surface sensitivity, root caries, and in extreme cases, eventual tooth loss. Recent advances in techniques and materials have resulted in significant improvements in both comfort, predictability and esthetics.
Common Esthetic Problems
Below are just a few examples of some common esthetic problems and how they were corrected:
Gummy Smile (Excessive Gingival Display)
A gummy smile can occur due to a number of reasons: a short upper lip, excessive wear of the teeth due to grinding, vertical maxillary excess (a long upper jawbone), and/or altered passive eruption.
Regardless of the cause, you do not have to live with a gummy smile. Let us work together with your dentist to determine the underlying cause and the proper treatment plan.
When the gums recede, the teeth appear much “longer” than normal. Besides the fact that this does not look good, recession exposes the sensitive root surface which can make it difficult to enjoy hot or cold foods and drinks. Also, the exposed root surface is much more susceptible to plaque accumulation and root caries. In advanced cases, teeth can become loose because as the gum recedes, so does the supporting bone.
In many cases, this situation can be corrected by transplanting a small piece of gum tissue to cover the exposed root and thereby correct the appearance of “long” teeth.
Probably the single most challenging problem in Periodontal Plastic Surgery is the reconstruction of the delicate tissue between the teeth, called the interdental papilla. No one ever thinks about this small section of the gums until it is lost, resulting in the presence of black holes or black triangles between the teeth.
Important advances have been made in the reconstruction of lost papillae but it is still the toughest task your dental team can face, often requiring the expertise of a dentist, periodontist, and/or orthodontist, among others.
A “gummy” smile can make teeth look short and unattractive. With the ease and comfort of a laser, gums can be recontoured to reveal a more appealing smile. Not only can the laser quickly sculpt excessive and uneven gums, it also immediately seals the tissue, helping the patient to heal faster and more comfortably. This procedure can be completed in a single office visit.
How It’s Done
Gum recontouring is a safe, comfortable procedure. The dentist will first numb the gums with anesthetic. Then, with a diode laser, he or she will gently re-shape the gum line, sculpting excessive and uneven tissue. The laser immediately seals the tissue promoting a fast, comfortable recuperation
The dentist will use a diode laser to sculpt your gum tissue. Like any laser, this intense beam of light cuts the tissue quickly. However, at the right setting, it will not affect the tooth structure surrounding and underneath the gums.
Recovery/Post Op Expectations
Following gum recontouring, the gums may be tender and swollen for up to one week. To reduce the symptoms, patients should take Ibuprofen and rinse with salt water.
Complications are rare, and at most a patient may experience minor tenderness.
Am I a Candidate?
If you have a “gummy” smile that makes your teeth look short and unattractive, or if you reveal too much of your gum tissue when you smile, you are a candidate for gum recontouring.