When you smile, do you feel like you see more gums than teeth? Do your teeth look really small and short compared to your gums? A gummy smile can make you feel self-conscious, thereby affecting every aspect of your life from your work success to social endeavors. Thankfully, you don't have to just live with your gummy smile. There are a number of ways your dentist can reduce the size of your gums, make your teeth appear larger, or both.
Laser Gum Reduction Surgery
This is perhaps the most common treatment for gummy smiles. Also known as laser gum contouring, the procedure involves using a laser to remove your excess gum tissue, revealing more of the teeth that lie beneath. It's best suited for mild cases of gummy smiles in which there's just a thin layer of extra gum tissue over the teeth.
Prior to your procedure, your dentist will likely use a pen or marker to draw a line across your gums so you see where the new gum line will be. Local anesthetic will be used to numb the area, and then the laser will be used to "cut" the extra gum tissue away. You won't feel a thing during the procedure, though you may sense a "burning" smell as the laser works its way through the tissue. There are typically no stitches involved; the laser will minimize the bleeding. Once the anesthetic wears off, you'll want to use over-the-counter pain relievers and stick to soft foods for a few days in order to stay comfortable, but you should have a much less gummy smile after this laser dentistry procedure
For more seriously gummy smiles where the teeth are buried under thicker layers of deeper gum tissue and connective tissue, your dentist may need to use a more extensive procedure called crown lengthening to make your teeth look larger. Like laser gum reduction, crown lengthening is performed under local anesthesia. Your dentist will make cuts to separate the gums from the teeth. Sometimes, some bone tissue will be removed from around the roots of the teeth in order to allow for more extensive re-shaping of the area. Once the necessary tissue has been trimmed away, the gums are stitched back together into the proper position.
Your mouth will be very sensitive after a crown lengthening procedure, and you'll have to be very careful about sticking to soft foods, applying ice to the area to keep swelling down, and using an antiseptic mouth rinse to prevent infection. Your dentist will remove the stitches about a week after the procedure, and it takes about 3 months for the area to heal completely.
In some cases, the problem is not that you have too much gum tissue, but rather that your teeth have not emerged fully enough from beneath your gums. Your dentist will take x-rays before recommending your gummy smile treatment to determine if this is the case. If your teeth are, in fact, less descended than they should be, the recommended solution is likely to be orthodontics.
In most cases, traditional braces will be your best bet for pulling your teeth down and exposing them more fully from beneath your gums. Clear, invisible aligners are not well suited to this extensive tooth re-positioning. While having to wear metal or ceramic braces may be annoying, when the process is over, you'll have a less gummy smile you can be proud of. In most cases, you'll only need braces on the front teeth that look too gummy -- not all of your teeth -- so this minimizes the discomfort and inconvenience of having to wear braces. Based on the condition of your smile, your dentist can tell you how long you'll need to wear braces for.
If your smile seems too gummy, talk to your dentist about your treatment options. Chances are either laser reduction, crown lengthening, or orthodontics will help you achieve the more toothy smile you've been dreaming of.