What Can I Do About My Gummy Smile?
Ever wondered what you can do about your gummy smile? How many photos of you are there out there with your lips pursed together in something that’s supposed to resemble a smile?
So many you probably lost count because you’ve been doing it for years. Your friends and family have stopped pleading with you to just please, please crack a normal smile just this once. But you’re far too self-conscious about your gummy smile to give in.
Listen, I’m not going to tell you that you concern is unjustified—you should give yourself a break, though—but there are greater issues at play with disproportionate gums. They can make it more difficult to eat and drink, talk, and, maybe most importantly, to clean your teeth. Any one of those is reason enough to visit a periodontist. (We specialize in diagnosing and treating pretty much anything having to do with the gums.)
And you’ll be happy to know there’s a common procedure that can resolve all of that—including your gummy smile. It’s called crown lengthening.
Why are my gums like this?
Disproportionate gums, or a gummy smile, occur for a few reasons:
- Genetics. In a lot of cases, the condition’s hereditary.
- Orthodontic issues. A number of oral structural issues, like misalignment or improper eruption, can be a cause.
- Gum disease. When gums become inflamed because of infection, they can seem overly prominent.
Regardless of the condition, the condition can be corrected.
So, what is crown lengthening?
Crown lengthening is a procedure that can be done for a single tooth or multiple teeth. Basically, a periodontist will reshape the gum tissue at the base of the tooth to expose more of the tooth’s surface. The bone level may also need to be adjusted in order to extend the height or size of the visible part of the tooth to ensure that everything’s stable. Your gums need at least two millimeters of tooth surface to bond with in order to prevent trapped foods and other potential issues.
If, say, a tooth has fractured and broken off beneath the gum line, or there’s significant decay below the gum line, crown lengthening can also be used to recreate the needed amount of exposed tooth so that further restorative dental procedures, such as crowns and veneers, won’t be compromised.
If the tooth needs a crown, I’ll fit it with a temporary one to protect the tooth. It also makes the procedure easier because I’ll be able to see exactly how much gum tissue or bone I need to remove.
What’s the recovery like?
For the first few hours after the procedure, apply an ice pack to help relieve the swelling. I’ll also prescribe a pain reliever and a mouth rinse, though the pain is fairly mild and can generally be managed with a couple of Advil.
For the first couple weeks, at least, you’ll want to stick to a fairly soft diet. You’ll be able to brush the teeth near the stiches, but you’ll want to avoid the gums. Should any food get stuck near the stiches, use a toothpick to gently remove it.
If you need a crown, I’ll give your gums about two months to heal before your dentist will place the final crown. Gum tissue tends to shrink as it heals, and if you don’t give it enough time, the edges of the crown could show. Otherwise, your gums should be fully healed within a week or two. You can be back at work and eating soft foods the day after the procedure. I’ll see you in seven to 10 days to take the stiches out and then again four to six weeks later to ensure that everything’s healing as it should.
There may be some bleeding during the days that follow the procedure. It’s also not unusual for the affected teeth to be a bit sensitive to hot and cold. That’ll pass.
What are you waiting for?
You may be thinking, I’ve been living with these gums all my life and they’re that easy to fix? Yes, basically. Contact me to schedule a consultation and we’ll have you smiling with confidence in no time.