Having a great smile means more than just having healthy teeth. Aesthetics also play a key role in achieving the perfect smile. Certain cosmetic conditions can affect how a person feels about their self-image and how others perceive them. Having a "gummy" smile, for instance, can make the average person feel self-conscious and less likely to enjoy social activities.
Laser gum contouring offers an effective way for those with gum overgrowth or an uneven gum line to finally enjoy the great smile hidden underneath. The following offers an in-depth look at this cosmetic dentistry service.
How It Works
So-called "gummy" smiles are caused by excess gum tissue overlapping the crowns of the teeth, making them appear shorter and the gums more prominent. Gum contouring trims back this excess growth, revealing more of the crown for a more natural and longer tooth appearance.
Prior to the advent of laser gum contouring, dentists relied on scalpels and radiosurgery to remove excess gum tissue and reshape the gum line. As the name suggests, laser gum contouring involves the use of soft tissue lasers to cut away excess tissue. The laser also cauterizes blood vessels within the soft tissue, minimizing bleeding and the risk of infection.
What to Expect
Before the procedure begins, your dentist will inject a mild local anesthetic to the gum tissue to numb the area. Afterwards, your dentist will trim away small amounts of excess gum tissue to expose the underlying teeth and re-contour the gum line for evenness. If necessary, your dentist may also trim away small amounts of bone from the base of the tooth root.
The same laser used for gum contouring can also be used to remove hollow areas that could potentially harbor bacteria, reducing the likelihood of post-surgery infection.
Benefits and Risks
Laser gum contouring offers a wealth of benefits for those looking to correct gum overgrowth:
- Since the soft tissue laser automatically cauterizes the surgery area, there's less chance of excessive bleeding during the procedure and post-surgery bleeding is also minimized.
- Only the soft tissue laser is used during the procedure, reducing the risk of infection caused by surgical tools.
- Laser gum contouring promotes quicker recovery times than other methods of gum contouring. Patients also suffer less discomfort during the procedure.
As with any type of cosmetic dental procedure, there are also several risks to consider:
- Some patients may have an allergic reaction to the anesthetic used before the surgery. However, these cases are rare and your dentist will take steps to prevent this from happening.
- In some cases, the gum tissue may grow back to its original state. Such relapses may require additional surgery to correct.
- There's also the remote possibility of infection to consider, making post-surgery care essential for the best possible results.
In most cases, it can take up to a few weeks to completely recover from the procedure. In the meantime, you may experience a small amount of tissue scabbing. You shouldn't worry about scabbing since it's a perfectly natural part of the healing process and it won't change your gum line's new appearance.
For a smoother post-surgery recovery, consider these following tips:
- Follow your dentist's recommendations on teeth brushing, including when and how to brush.
- Stick to soft, cool foods like yogurt, ice cream and pasta as a part of your post-surgery recovery for the first few days.
- Avoid hard foods, as well as foods containing spices and seeds until your gums completely recover.
- Don't hesitate to take over-the-counter pain relievers to alleviate sporadic pain. Aspirin acts as a blood thinner, so avoid taking it for pain relief while recovering from the surgery.
The results of laser gum contouring can give anyone suffering from gum overgrowth the confidence boost they need. Consult with your dentist to see if this procedure is right for you.