What is gum contouring?



August 19, 2019

Gum contouring is a dental procedure which is conducted in order to improve the health and appearance of a smile. It is usually performed for cosmetic purposes when a patient is unhappy with their gums resting too high or too low. In some cases, it may be carried out to even the gum line.

Gum contouring is performed by a dentist or a periodontist, and they will reshape the gums to provide a more uniform and aesthetically pleasing smile. Below we will go over the causes, process, cost and important information pertaining to gum contouring.

Gum Contouring Example Smile

Causes of an Uneven Gumline

Too much gum

A “gummy” smile may be the result of one or more of the following factors. An individual may have a naturally high lip line that can expose the entire teeth and gums. Excessive gum tissue may also be a side effect of prescription medications, poor oral health or an infection.

Lastly, a gummy smile may develop due to a condition known as altered passive eruption. This condition is where the permanent teeth do not fully erupt from the gumline, creating the appearance of short teeth and too much gum showing.   

Too little gum

In general, receding gums can be caused by genetics, brushing too hard or due to periodontal disease. Such diseases affect the structures that support your teeth.

Limited gum tissue can be more cause for concern than too much gum tissue. When the gumline recedes, the root of a tooth can become vulnerable to decay or sensitivity. This is because the root surface is more porous as it doesn’t have the hard enamel coating to protect it from bacteria and plaque. Over time, gum recession can lead to tooth decay, sensitivity and even tooth loss.

Gum Contouring Process

Too much gum

For patients with excessive gum tissue, simple gum contouring can be undertaken to correct the gumline. Before the procedure takes place, the dentist may design your new gumline with you. This is usually through a computer-generated mock-up of your teeth and gums. Once you are both happy with the new gumline design, a time for the procedure will be organised.

On the day of the procedure, the dentist may also choose to directly mark lines onto your gum. Once again, you will be able to see how much gum will be removed.

Under local anaesthetic, your dentist or periodontist will use a high-precision laser or scalpel to create a new, more aesthetically pleasing gumline. The procedure can take as little as a few minutes depending on the complexity of the case.

In some situations where simple contouring is not viable, crown lengthening may be required. This is where gum and/or bone is removed to improve the gumline.

Too little gum

Gum recession is treated similarly to excessive gum tissue. However, during the procedure the dentist adds gum tissue rather than remove it. To add more gumline, the dentist or periodontist will graft the patient’s gum tissue or use sterile donor tissue. This allows the patient’s gumline to be moulded into a more pleasing shape.

What’s more, gum contouring in this manner helps to protect the root of your tooth from decay. However, healing for this type of procedure can take longer than simple gum contouring.  

Treatment Suitability

If a patient has excessive gum tissue or receding gums, they may be suitable for gum contouring treatment. However, if gum recession is due to periodontal disease, this will need to be addressed before gum contouring takes place.

After a consultation appointment with your dentist, they will be able to determine if gum contouring is suitable for your individual case.

Cost of Gum Contouring

The cost of gum contouring will depend on the scope of work that needs to be completed. For this reason, gum contouring is assessed on a case by case basis it can be complicated to provide a fixed price.

At your initial consultation, the dentist will provide you with a treatment plan which will include an accurate quotation cost.

Health insurance typically does not cover gum contouring due to the procedure’s cosmetic nature. Before treatment, check with your health fund for their policy on gum contouring.

Risks of Gum Contouring

As with any dental procedure, there are risks associated with gum contouring. Firstly, patients may have an allergic reaction to the anaesthetic. As well, there is a possibility the gum tissue may relapse or regrow after surgery.

At Coastal Dental Care, we minimise the risks associated with surgery through our extensive knowledge and experience in the field.

Book an Appointment 

If you would like to improve the appearance of your gumline, please feel free to contact us. Alternatively, you can book a consultation appointment online 24/7.