One of the most rewarding parts of my job is changing a patient’s smile. In some cases, minor surgical therapy can change a patient’s life forever. The Gummy Smile procedure is one such treatment. It helps patients smile more, adds self-confidence and promotes better health for the rest of their lives. When patients return for their follow-up visits, they usually tell me they never knew their teeth could look so good and cannot understand why they waited so long to have the procedure done. They love their new smiles and they usually want to share stories about family, friends and co-workers taking notice immediately.
Teeth that are covered by excessive gum tissue look short and unhealthy. The gum tissue should be at or just above the neck of the tooth, called the cementoenamel junction. Sometimes the tissue may cover one-half or more of the tooth. This can be caused by many factors such as high bone tissue, incomplete eruption of the tooth or thick gingival fibers. Having this excessive gum tissue can lead to unhealthy tissue that bleeds easily. It can also contribute to tooth decay. The excessive tissue allows food and bacteria to become packed under the gum causing inflammation. Patients may notice redness along their gum line, swelling, bleeding and pain as the periodontal disease progresses. Long term, the inflammation can lead to tooth loss. This condition can be seen easily on the front teeth; however it occurs on the back teeth as well.
To fix a gummy smile, a periodontist administers a local anesthetic and then performs gum surgery to remove the excessive tissue. In minor cases where only one or two teeth are affected, the dentist may be able to fix the gummy smile with laser treatment. Most of the time, however, the bone must be remodeled to correct the problem and restore the tooth to the proper length. The risk of complications is low and the mild discomfort after surgery can be treated with over-the-counter medication. Patients can see the results immediately. Within a few weeks, the patient’s gums have healed and they can see the full effect of a beautiful and healthy smile.
If you’re unhappy with your smile, come in for a consultation to see if cosmetic dentistry can help you have the smile you always wanted.
Michael Quinn, DMD, MHS, has been a practicing dentist since 1987. He is a Board Certified Periodontist and provides periodontal services to patients starting at age 8. Special services include all periodontal services, bone grafting, crown lengthening, dental implants and restorations, endodontic surgery, extractions, gummy smile treatment, laser treatment, periodontal disease management, pre-prosthetic surgery, ridge augmentation, soft tissue grafts and sinus lift. He practices at several Coast Dental offices in Georgia including ones in Atlanta, Marietta, Northlake, Fayetteville, Lawrenceville, and Stone Mountain.
Written by: Michael Quinn, DMD, MHS and Beth Gaddis
Reviewed by: Cindy Roark, DMD