When you think about the way your smile looks, you probably think mostly about your teeth: Are they white and healthy-looking? Free of chips or cracks? Straight and evenly spaced? But your gums also influence the way your smile looks. If your gums extend too far down the surfaces of your teeth (a so-called gummy smile), your teeth may appear too small in proportion to the rest of your mouth and other facial features.

 On the other hand, if your gums rest very high on your teeth, they may appear overly large – and in some cases, the tooth roots may be exposed to decay-causing bacteria, making you more prone to developing gum disease.

Most people know about all the ways they can improve the appearance of their teeth: professional whitening treatments, veneers, bonding, Invisalign or crowns, for instance. But many people don’t know they can also change the way their gums look with a state-of-the-art procedure called gum contouring.

What is gum contouring?

Sometimes called gum reshaping, gum contouring removes or adds gum tissue to your natural gum line, resulting in a more pleasing ratio and better symmetry for your smile. A gum contouring procedure can be performed on its own, or it can be combined with other cosmetic dental procedures for a complete smile makeover.

What happens during a gum contouring procedure?

Before a gum contouring procedure, your gums will be carefully assessed to identify the best ways to reshape your gum line for the optimal aesthetic effects. If your gum line is too shallow, your dentist will remove a small amount of gum tissue from another area of your mouth – often your palate (the roof of your mouth) – and attach it to the gum line using very tiny sutures (stitches). As the area heals, the grafted gum tissue will grow in place, providing not only more pleasing contours, but also helping to protect the lower portion of your teeth, providing a strong barrier against decay-causing bacteria.
If your gums extend too far down your tooth, your dentist will carefully remove a small amount of gum tissue, creating a natural-looking curve that exposes more of your natural tooth while enhancing its appearance. Excess gum tissue may be removed using a special incising instrument, or in some cases, it may be removed using a laser.

Is gum contouring painful?

Most gum contouring procedures are performed using a type of dental sedation. The type of sedation will depend on the extent of your procedure and other factors. Some patients prefer local anesthesia with an oral sedative to help them relax, while others may be good candidates for deeper sedation using an IV. Sometimes called “sleep dentistry,” deep sedation allows you to doze throughout your procedure, and you’ll have no memory of the procedure once it’s complete. Our practice uses advanced pain management techniques to ensure you stay comfortable throughout your procedure.

Is the cost of gum contouring covered by insurance?

That depends on your insurance coverage and whether your procedure is considered cosmetic or medical. The difference: Cosmetic gum contouring is performed strictly to improve the way your smile looks; medical gum contouring procedures are performed to improve the health of your teeth and gums – specifically, to help prevent gum disease and infection of the lower portions of the teeth and the roots.

Ready to learn more?

Gum contouring can dramatically improve the appearance of your smile so you feel more attractive and more confident. To find out more about gum contouring and if it’s a good choice for you, call Princeton Center for Dental Aesthetics & Implants at 609-924-1414 and schedule a consultation appointment today.