A “gummy smile” is one in which the person’s gum line extends too far down on the front teeth. The result is a smile that shows too much gum tissue and not enough tooth surface. For many years, people with gummy smiles had two choices: either live with the condition, or choose to undergo a surgical procedure that involved cutting away excess gum tissue, which was usually followed by an extended recovery period. Fortunately, today’s dental patients have another option: laser gum contouring. If you or a loved one have a gummy smile that you’d like changed, you should consider the advantages of laser gum contouring. What follows is some helpful information designed to help Cedar Park, Texas dental patients understand this procedure and decide whether or not they are good candidates.
What Used to be Involved in Gum Contouring
Before the advent of laser technology for use in dentistry, oral surgeons and dentists had to resort to a more invasive technique to repair a gummy smile. That traditional method is still used today by some dental professionals, and although it’s quite effective at resolving the issue, it’s also a relatively invasive procedure.
The process involves the dentist or oral surgeon using a scalpel to cut away excess gum tissue from the top portion of the patient’s tooth surface, thus exposing more of the tooth when the patient smiles. After the tissue is cut away, the dentist sutures the remaining gum tissue, and the patient returns home to wait for the gum tissue to heal – a process that typically takes at least several weeks, if not longer.
The Laser Gum Contouring Procedure
Thanks to the advent of laser technology, the process involved in gum contouring is easier for everyone involved – both the dentist and the patient. The procedure begins when the dentist or oral surgeon administers anaesthetic and (in most cases) some form of dental sedation to the patient. The anaesthetic numbs the gum tissue that will be worked on, while the sedation helps to keep the patient relaxed and at ease during the procedure. Although the exact form of sedation used will vary depending on the patient and the dentist involved, most dental practices offer three types of sedation to their patients: 1) nitrous oxide – also referred to as “laughing gas,” nitrous oxide is a mild sedative that is administered to the patient in the dentist’s chair immediately before the procedure; 2) oral sedation – consists of a sedative that comes in either a pill or capsule form that is prescribed by the dentist and taken by the patient before arriving at the office for the procedure, and 3) IV sedation – a stronger dose of sedative that is administered to the patient via IV in the dentist’s office before the procedure begins.
Once the anaesthetic and sedation take effect, the dentist starts the procedure by using a laser designed specifically for this purpose. Using the laser, the dentist literally resculpts the patient’s gum line, lifting it higher on the tooth surface to expose less gum and more tooth surface when the patient smiles.
The Advantages of Laser Gum Contouring
While there’s no doubt that the traditional gum contouring procedure works, there are numerous benefits of using a laser to remove excess gum tissue. What follows is a list of those advantages:
- The laser is more precise. Because the dentist or oral surgeon can make more precise incisions with a laser than a scalpel, it reduces the amount of damage done to the surrounding gum tissue.
- The laser removes excess gum tissue and cauterizes at the same time. This means much less bleeding during the procedure.
- The cauterization that occurs with a laser also promotes quicker healing and a shorter recovery time for the patient.
- Lasers make the procedure virtually pain-free, meaning that the patient can remain awake throughout the procedure. Although it’s common for some form of dental sedation to be used, each of the methods mentioned above allows the patient to remain fully conscious.
- The laser allows for less swelling of the gum tissue, as well as reducing the possibility of infection afterwards.
- Because the laser cauterizes the wound, sutures are not normally required after laser gum contouring. Stitches may be required in some instances, but most patients will be able to heal thoroughly without them.
Why Bother with Gum Contouring?
Although most gum contouring procedures are needed for oral health reasons, most are considered to be cosmetic dentistry. If you have a gummy smile, you may be wondering whether it’s worth it to go through with this type of procedure rather than simply living with the smile you have. And, in fact, if you like your own smile, then there’s certainly no reason to change it. But if you don’t – if you feel embarrassed or uncomfortable with the appearance of your smile – this it’s definitely worth considering laser gum contouring.
Having a nice smile isn’t just an exercise in vanity. In fact, many studies have shown that feeling good about your smile boosts your self-esteem and makes you feel more self-confident. An attractive smile also changes how other people view you! Research shows that people with nice-looking smiles are typically seen as being more honest and/or more trustworthy. So investing in laser gum contouring to give you a more attractive smile isn’t just about looking better – it’s about feeling better and improving your quality of life.
Modern dental technology offers so many benefits for today’s dental patients! And use of lasers in dentistry is a great example of that technology. Thanks to these advances, we can resolve dental issues quickly, safely, and with much less risk than ever before. If you have a gummy smile, you owe it to yourself to learn more about how to change your smile for the better. To find out about all the advantages of laser gum contouring, and to decide whether or not this is the right choice for you, contact your Cedar Park, Texas dentist today and schedule an appointment.