Gum Lifts, Gum Reshaping and Gum Re-Contouring… Everything You Need to Know

Many people find that they have problems with their gums, either showing too much tooth (typically on the upper front teeth) and looking long in the tooth or not showing enough tooth and having a gummy smile. This blog post is dedicated to helping people understand more about how dumb lifts, reshaping and recontouring can help with a gummy or long in the tooth smile

We are going to break this blog post down into 2 sections:

  1. gummy smile
  2. long in the tooth smile

Treating a Gummy Smile

There are a few different ways to treat a gummy smile:

  • Gum lift, also known as gum reshaping or gum recontouring.
  • Botox or similar Botulinum Type a Toxin

What is a gum lift?

A lift would typically be undertaken on someone who shows a lot of gum on the upper teeth when they smile AND their teeth appear too small/short.

gummy smile
Image credit: Ramu coolhimesh – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=49474133

The reason both of these criteria need to be in place is because if we removed gum from someone who’s teeth looked too long then this would make their teeth look even longer, if this is you then an alternative treatment may need to be sought.

The Gum Lift Procedure

Prior to the surgical phase of the gum left your dentist will usually go through some form of pretreatment diagnosis and planning. This can very often involve production of a surgical guide.

Dental impressions will be taken of your existing smile and sent to a laboratory, they can then work out the ideal amount of gum to be removed, a plastic guide can then be manufactured following this contour of where the gum should be removed, the plastic guide can then be placed back into your mouth and this shows your dentist exactly how much gum needs to be removed. The treatment can also be used for an even gums and treating an uneven gum line.

Image credit: www.elitedental.com.sg/aesthetic-gum-lift/

The gum lift is very often performed using a special laser which cauterises the gum as it goes meaning you have very little bleeding , the healing process is also very quick.

The soft tissue in your mouth, such as your gum tends to heal incredibly quickly and after only a few days the pain should have gone and you should begin to see the new results of your beautiful smile.

Treating a Gummy Smile with Botox

whilst a gum lift treats the gums to improve the look a gummy smile, treatment with Botox treats the lips to hide the gummy smile, rather than the gum tissue.

Very often a gummy smile is caused by the lips pulling back too far from your teeth when you smile, treatment with Botox can help to reduce the amount of muscle movement when you smile and relaxed the top lip. This has the effect of showing less gum in a broad smile and making the gummy smile look less pronounced.

Not everyone is suitable for this less invasive treatment as it depends upon the reason for your gummy smile. If it’s because your teeth are too small then treatment with Botox may only go a small way to helping, you may need a small amount of gum lift re-contouring surgery in addition to the Botox.

What can I do about my receding gums?

Receding gums and gum recession are on the opposite end of the spectrum to gum lift surgery. Receding gums are a natural phenomenon which happened as we age. The bone in your jaw tends to resorb and as it does so this takes the level of the gum with it, the older we get the less bone density and volume we have in our mouths and the longer our teeth look. tTooth sensitivity is also exacerbated with receding gums as the more sensitive dentine of your tooth becomes exposed.

Poor oral hygiene can also lead to gum recession caused by gum disease. As the gums become inflamed and infected the bone underneath begins to resorb and pull away, this then means the gums reduce in size also. This process can continue until the inflammation and/or infection is under control. Good oral hygiene with a good brush and floss technique is the best way to prevent this.

Gum re-contouring surgery including gum grafts may be able to help if this is severe. A gum graft involves taking a donor area of oral soft tissue, usually from the roof of your mouth, and then crafting it over their front of your teeth in order to produce a new cosmetically pleasing gum line.

How to Prevent Receding Gums

If your gum recession is due to age then this can be very difficult to prevent as everyone ages!

There are however a few things you can do to keep the resort option under control.

  • Switch to an electric toothbrush with a pressure sensor. Sometimes patients brush too hard using a conventional toothbrush, this can then damage the gums which respond by resorb in. Many electric toothbrushes have pressure sensors and using one of these can highlight if you are pressing too hard when you clean your teeth.
  • Brush from the gum towards the tooth. If you brush the other way round and away from the neck of the tooth, reversing the brushing action and brushing the gum back down onto the tooth can have a long-term effect and help to reduce the amount of gum recession.
  • Avoid over cleaning in one area. Many people, particularly if they use a manual toothbrush, find that their lower right hand area of the teeth gets over brush with a manual toothbrush, this is typically around the lower right canine (eye tooth) area. This over brushing can again result in gum recession.

Why Does a Smile Makeover Cost so Much?

The cost of cosmetic dentistry is a concern for lots of people, maybe you want to brighten your smile, straighten crooked teeth or replace missing teeth but don’t know where to get started? in this blog post, our Leicester based cosmetic dentist Dr Juttes Pallipatt looks at your smile makeover and cosmetic dentistry options as well as costs.

Is cosmetic dentistry worth it? Why or why not?

Your reasons for choosing cosmetic dentistry may include things such as,

  • wanting to look good for a wedding.
  • Wanting to feel more confident when you smile.
  • being embarrassed

Cosmetic dentistry, as well as helping with confidence and feeling better about yourself can also help to keep your teeth healthier. For example, it’s really important that you clean your teeth well each day, particularly in the difficult to reach areas in between your teeth as this is where the bulk of the bacteria lurk. Crooked teeth can be rather difficult to clean in between as it’s difficult to get floss or brushes in between teeth which aren’t straight. Straight teeth, on the other hand are far easier to clean in between with a piece of floss or brush meaning they tend to stay healthier.

What can a cosmetic dentist do?

A cosmetic dentist will primarily help you with:

  1. Straightening crooked teeth.
  2. Replacing missing teeth.
  3. Whitening dark teeth.
  4. Reshaping teeth which you don’t like the shape of.

At its core, this remains what a cosmetic dentist does, the techniques by which they achieve this change over time but include treatments like teeth whitening, dental veneers, dental bonding, dental bridges and implants.

The key feature of a cosmetic dentist is that they will be multidisciplinary, looking across a wide range of dental treatments, coordinating all of these treatments together into a smile makeover treatment plan which helps you achieve your goals.

What are the pros and cons of cosmetic dentistry?

The advantages of cosmetic dentistry include:

  • Increased confidence.
  • Easier to clean teeth which are straight.
  • Reduction in embarrassment due to your smile. Particularly if you have front teeth which you would like changed.
  • A more youthful look.
  • Removing facial lines and wrinkles.

The disadvantages of cosmetic dentistry may include:

  • Increased risk of dental decay if the quality of cosmetic dentistry restorations (such as veneers or crowns) isn’t as high as it could be.
  • Removal of otherwise healthy tooth structure. Sometimes healthy tooth structure needs to be removed to make way for a new veneer or crown, arguably it’s better to keep as much natural tooth structure as possible.

What kind of treatment is provided by the cosmetic dentist?

A cosmetic dentist will typically bring together a range of treatments, coordinating them to resolve your dental problems. A typical smile design may include some or all of the following elements:

  1. Orthodontics to straighten crooked teeth.
  2. Dental bonding to give the illusion of straight teeth, cover up dark teeth and hide chips and cracks in teeth.
  3. Dental veneers to give the illusion of straight teeth, cover up dark teeth and hide chips and cracks in teeth, but to a more extensive degree in dental bonding.
  4. Dental crowns to restore broken down teeth.
  5. Dental bridges to replace missing teeth and restore broken down teeth.
  6. Dental implants to replace missing teeth.
  7. Facial rejuvenation and antiwrinkle techniques such as dermal fillers and Botox.

What is the process for a smile design?

The 1st stage in the smile design process is to have a discussion with your cosmetic dentist to find out exactly what it is you don’t like about your smile.

In conjunction with this your dentist can also help you discover other possibilities which you may not have thought about.

Once this is done your dentist will then provide a treatment plan, this will identify:

  • The length of treatment.
  • Exactly which treatments you will have and in what order.
  • The cost of treatment.

Typically the process will then be as follows:

  • Orthodontic treatment. This is used to move teeth into the correct position, sometimes this is just so that natural teeth are straighter but orthodontics can also be used prior to having different types of veneers fitted.
  • Dental implants. Replacing missing teeth can also be done at an early stage and is often one of the 1st treatments to begin.
  • Once any implants are fitted or orthodontic treatment has been completed you can then look at the more detailed individual tooth level of cosmetic dentistry. Typically dental veneers, crowns and whitening will be at this final stage.

How much it will cost to fix my smile?

This is incredibly difficult to answer in a blog post, you have the teeth whitening cost, the dental veneers cost and the cost of any other treatment you decide to go ahead with, so it’s really personalised.

However, to give you a broad idea of the total costs they are as follows:

  • initial consultation – free
  • new patient dental health exam, from this treatment plan can be provided – £55
  • orthodontics-from £1800 for either the top or bottom teeth
  • dental implants from £2000
  • dental bonding from £90
  • dental veneers from £500
  • teeth whitening from £299 for either the top or bottom teeth

How much should a teeth whitening procedure cost?

There are a variety of different whitening systems including whitening toothpaste, laser treatments, whitening strips and by using a whitening gel provided at your dentist.

The toothpaste and whitening strips are easy options to begin whitening at home although you may find that the results don’t go quite white enough. This type of teeth whitening costs from as little as a few pounds for a tube of toothpaste.

The most preferred method is to use a bleaching agent such as hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. This can only be provided by a suitably qualified dental professional.

professional teeth whitening is far more predictable and your dentist will ensure your teeth are suitable for whitening prior to beginning the treatment. Typical whitening costs are from £299 for either the top or bottom teeth. The exact cost depends on the whitening method chosen.

There’s lots more information about cosmetic dentistry on the British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry’s website.