Are you self-conscious about the way your gums show when you smile? Having a gummy smile is a common cosmetic concern that many patients feel embarrassed about for many years of their lives. If a gummy smile is something that has been bothering you, please know there are options to enhance your smile to restore your confidence easily. This article will give you information on one way a procedure called a gingivectomy can improve a gummy smile.

What Types of Gummy Smiles Can Be Corrected By a Gingivectomy?

There are a few factors that cause a person to show too much gum when they smile. One of the most common reasons a patient shows too much gum when smiling is because the teeth are covered by extra gum tissue. The extra gum tissue makes the teeth appear short and smaller than average. The fact is that the teeth are usually perfectly normal size—they are covered by a millimeter or more of extra gum tissue. The beautiful shape and contours of your teeth are hidden under the gums. When the teeth are in the proper vertical position, and the lip is rising to the correct height upon smiling, a gingivectomy is a simple procedure that gives a beautiful enhancement to the smile.

So you’re probably wondering what causes the extra gum tissue? There are a few factors that can cause the gums to be lower on the teeth. Let’s look at the most common factors that cause extra gum tissue laying over the teeth:

Gingival Genetics: Some people genetically have thicker fuller gums. Thicker gums tend to cover more of the teeth when they erupt into their natural position. The good news for patients with bulbous gum tissue is that they are also genetically less susceptible to gum recession or bone loss. So that’s a nice perk. 

Orthodontic Intrusion: After braces or after orthodontics, the teeth can appear gummier depending on the movement of the teeth. A gummy smile after braces is because sometimes the front teeth should be vertically higher in the face. The orthodontist moves the teeth upward to proper teeth position. This is known as an orthodontic intrusion. After achieving proper tooth position after orthodontics, the gum position also needs to be corrected to match the proper position. 

Medications Can Affect the Gums: There are types of medications that predispose patients to develop excessively thick and bulbous gums. The common medications that cause extra gum tissue are anti-seizure medications like Depakote and cardiac medications like Procardia.

What Is a Gingivectomy Procedure For a Gummy Smile?

A gingivectomy for a gummy smile is simply removing and recontouring the gum tissue around the teeth to achieve a more aesthetic or more hygienic positon. When the gum tissue is thick and bulbous around the teeth, it makes the teeth appear too short. The tissue also is prone to collecting bacteria and food that can microscopically collect between the gum and the tooth. Recontouring the gum tissue is like sculpting the gums to an ideal form that provides a beautiful cosmetic improvement but also hygienic improvement. 

The procedure is usually completed in the office setting under local anesthesia. The procedure is generally painless once the local anesthesia is given. If a patient is excessively anxious or dental phobic, nitrous oxide or IV sedation may be used to help with anxiety, but typically sedation is not needed for a gingivectomy. The recontouring of your gums during a gingivectomy may be done with a scalpel or a laser. Both techniques are equally as successful and generally provide a similar result and healing timeline. 

Try to seek an experienced dentist or periodontist in your area that has experience with surgery as well as facial cosmetics. A good sign that you have an experienced provider is for them to take detailed before pictures of your smile, discuss your goals with you, and provide you with digital imaging to give you a sense of the goal result after the gingivectomy.

What is Healing Like After a Gingivectomy For a Gummy Smile?

Healing after a gummy smile is generally very mild. The final result may be observed nearly immediately, but the true final result can be observed in 3-4 weeks when the inflammation fully settles. The gums around the teeth involved will be sore for 1-2 days with no major bleeding or swelling. During the first two days, the gums may feel similar to the sensation that you would have if you accidentally burned yourself with cheese on a hot slice of pizza. 

The area will be mildly tender to touch for 2 weeks post-op, and the gums may have a red outline of coloring from inflammation that will slowly resolve those first two weeks. The key to healing is to keep the area clean. You will most likely be prescribed an antibiotic and a prescription mouth rinse. Make sure to take both those prescriptions to heal easily, and you will prevent any infection. 

Contact Aesthetic Smile Reconstruction Today!

Dr. Charles Sutera is the leader of gummy smile treatment in Massachusetts. His practice Aesthetic Smile Reconstruction is located in Waltham, MA, and serves the entire Boston metro area for cosmetic gum treatment. Dr. Sutera has advanced training in facial aesthetics, cosmetic dental surgery, as well as cosmetic restorative dentistry. He has successfully treated hundreds of gummy smile patients with predictable success. View some of our before and after photos. Aesthetic Smile Reconstruction strives to provide beautiful, life-changing dental health care that you will be proud of. Contact us today, we’d love to see you smile!