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A gingivectomy, commonly known as gum contouring, gingival sculpting, or gum reshaping, is a cosmetic dental procedure that reshapes the gumline. The treatment improves your smile by changing the look and shape of your gums and teeth.
Gum reshaping can either be done with a laser or scalpel (traditional). Both procedures produce the same results but involve different steps. During a laser gingivectomy procedure, your dentist uses a high-powered dental laser that releases light energy to remove gum tissue. Traditional gingivectomies employ the use of a manual scalpel to cut away gum tissue.
A gingivectomy is a great option for people whose gums cover too much or not enough of their teeth. For example, gums that are too high can make your teeth look smaller. Gums can also become uneven if you had a dental crown or implant placed.
Other indicators for a gingivectomy include:
Even though gum reshaping is a cosmetic procedure, which means it is elective, the procedure can be medically necessary in some cases. If you have receding gums due to periodontal disease, this procedure may be a necessary part of your periodontal treatment plan. Other necessary surgeries usually include pocket reduction, dental crown lengthening, and bone regeneration treatments.
Most people who undergo gingivectomy surgery do so to improve their appearance. Gum reshaping is generally considered cosmetic if you remove overgrown gum tissue over a dental crown or want to add more gum tissue.
There are many benefits of gingivectomy surgery. The primary benefits include:
Gingivectomy surgery is relatively fast and can be done right in your dentist’s office. Depending on which treatment you choose, your dentist will either use a laser or scalpel to remove or add gum tissue. There are a few main steps in the procedure, including:
Before the procedure, your dentist will use a special pen to mark your gums and determine how much tissue will be removed or added. They will show you what they plan to do before beginning the procedure to ensure you are happy with the results.
After marking your gums, the dentist will apply local anesthesia (a numbing medication) in your mouth. You will stay awake during the procedure and remember everything, but will not feel any pain. Ask your dentist about sedation options if you have a fear of needles or surgery in general.
The local anesthesia will be in full effect after about 5 to 10 minutes. Then, your dentist will begin removing or adding gum tissue using a scalpel or laser technology. The procedure generally takes 1 to 2 hours to complete.
After the procedure, you will be provided with detailed instructions on how to take care of your gums and teeth. This includes what you should refrain from eating and drinking. You should not drink warm or hot beverages and only eat soft foods for about a week after surgery. Also, do not drink alcohol or smoke tobacco during the healing process. You can also take over-the-counter pain relievers to reduce any pain and discomfort. Refrain from taking aspirin because it can increase bleeding.
If the procedure is not medically necessary, you will have to pay out-of-pocket. If your dentist recommends gum reshaping to improve your oral health, you may qualify for some insurance coverage.
Depending on how many teeth require treatment and the extent of the condition, the cost for treatment and coverage can vary. It is essential to talk with your dentist or periodontist, as well as your insurance company, to determine the best plan. A gingivectomy is rarely covered in full.
For a single tooth, treatment can cost anywhere between $250 and $600. Treatment can cost up to $3,000 for all of your front top or bottom teeth.
The healing process after a gingivectomy can take anywhere between a couple of days to a couple of weeks. Recovery depends on how many teeth were treated and the severity of the prior condition. Everyone is different, so recovery also depends on your genetics, your overall health, and how well you follow the aftercare instructions from your dentist.
A gingivectomy is a relatively fast and easy procedure. Before the procedure begins, your dentist will administer local anesthesia, which means you won’t feel pain or discomfort during the surgery. However, most patients experience some discomfort, tenderness, and numbness after the procedure. The pain should subside after a few days. Ibuprofen and other OTC pain relievers can be used to help reduce pain as well.
Gums are growing tissues, which means they will grow back over time. While your gums may grow back, it does not necessarily mean it will be as severe as before the surgery. It all depends on your genetics, the shape of the bone underneath your gums, and how well you care for your teeth. If you practice good oral care, the results can last for decades.
Gum reshaping is a safe procedure. There is a very low possibility an allergic reaction or severe bleeding and/or swelling will occur. There are also minimal side effects associated with this procedure. In rare cases, you may develop an infection.
It is also essential to avoid spicy, warm, or hot foods and drinks until the gums completely heal. This helps reduce the chance of infection, swelling, and bleeding.
If you are unsure about a gingivectomy for cosmetic purposes, you may benefit from other treatments. Dental bonding and teeth whitening can improve the appearance of your teeth and typically cost less than gum reshaping surgery.
Blue Ocean Publishing Group. The Million Dollar Smile, Changing Lives with Cosmetic Dentistry. 2018.
Majid, Nadim. Dentistry Demystified on Amazon. Lulu Com, 2012.
Phinney, Donna J., and Judy H. Halstead. Dental Assisting: a Comprehensive Approach. Cengage Learning, 2018.