How Laser Gum Contouring Can Fix a Gummy Smile

Lasers can take care of a gummy smile

Reshaping Your Smile With Laser Dentistry

From an outside perspective, a gummy smile can look quite charming and unique, but to the person with one, this isn’t always the case. Many people with obviously gummy smiles may feel self-conscious about this feature and even find themselves covering or subduing their smile to hide its appearance. 

If you can relate, there’s no reason to continue living with a smile that doesn’t represent how you feel on the inside. You can boost your self-confidence through a cosmetic dentistry procedure called laser gum contouring.

What is considered a gummy smile?

The most simple definition of a gummy smile is one with excessive gum tissue showing when a person speaks or smiles. The gummy appearance may be due to too much gum being revealed, average-sized gums accompanied by teeth that appear too small, or a combination of bigger gums and smaller teeth.

In more specific terms, most people – dentists included – tend to agree that a smile begins to appear “gummy” when 3-4mm of gum tissue is revealed in a broad smile. Cosmetic dentists tend to aim for 2-3mm or less when revising a smile with a lot of gum showing. 

Is there a reason they develop?

Not necessarily. If you have optimal oral health, good bite alignment, and normal lip mobility, chances are the amount of gums showing in your smile is completely natural and unique to you as a person. You may have been born with that type of smile or developed one as you went through adolescence, when your teeth and jaw finished maturing.

Aside from a natural gummy smile, there are three other reasons why your smile may appear gummy:

  • Poor bite alignment and jaw position causing the upper jaw to protrude and reveal excessive gum tissue.
  • Hyperactive muscles in the upper lip causing it to come up too far, thus revealing more gum tissue than what normally would be seen.
  • Untreated periodontal (gum) disease causing the gums to swell and puff out, giving the appearance of too much gum tissue.

Your dentist can help you determine whether your gummy smile is normal or a side effect of another oral or physical health condition.

Can it be a problem for my oral health?

The majority of naturally-occurring gummy smiles don’t negatively impact oral health and are considered only an aesthetic issue. However, if your smile’s gummy appearance is caused by periodontal disease, a hormone imbalance, or excessive gum growth linked to a systemic disease, then yes, your oral health may be at risk.

Your dentist will be able to evaluate your overall oral health and determine if your gummy smile is purely cosmetic or if there’s an underlying oral or medical condition impacting your health.

How are gummy smiles reversed?

Gummy smiles are reversed through a cosmetic dentistry procedure called gum contouring.

Gum contouring is a form of oral surgery that focuses on enhancing the shape and height of the gum line, where the tissue rests on the teeth. Sheppard Family Dental Care offers laser gum contouring, a service that contours gum tissue with a dental laser instead of a scalpel.

Laser gum contouring has many benefits over traditional gum contouring. It is much more comfortable for the patient, bleeding and swelling are minimized, and the risks of infection are greatly reduced due to the natural cauterizing effect of dental lasers. Our specific dental laser is called the Biolase, a high-tech water laser that’s even more gentle yet effective.

Depending on your treatment plan, you may also need dental crowns or veneers to enhance and protect your teeth post-surgery. We provide stunning porcelain crowns and veneers to complement your laser gum contouring makeover.

What can I expect after laser gum contouring?

The healing period following laser gum contouring can take a couple of weeks, depending on how much reshaping you received and whether additional services, like crowns or veneers, were included. For example, if you had minimal gum contouring, you may feel back to normal within a few days to a week.

If you were given a special mouthwash to use, follow the directions and keep your teeth and mouth clean as usual. You’ll also need to eat soft foods for a few days to prevent unnecessary gum irritation.

During this time, it’s normal to feel some tenderness and discomfort as your gums heal. Following your dentist’s aftercare instructions is crucial to ensure proper healing and prevent irritation or infection. Most importantly, take it easy for the first day or two and get plenty of rest.

Complications from laser gum contouring are very rare, but if you experience any sudden swelling or severe pain, or notice discharge from your gums, get in touch with your dentist immediately. 

Schedule your laser gum contouring consultation today.

The team at Sheppard Family Dental Care provides general and cosmetic dentistry in Lawton, OK. Laser gum contouring is just one of many ways we can boost your smile confidence and help you achieve optimal oral health. If you’re interested in learning more about laser gum contouring and discovering your ideal treatment plan, book a consultation by calling our office or requesting a visit online.