Have A ‘Gummy Smile?’

Posted on Jan 11, 2016 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

Think of a photo that shows someone who is truly happy. They are typically beaming with a big, wide smile. For those who feel their smile has flaws, however, letting loose with a truly happy smile can be difficult.

For example, this can be the case for those who have a ‘gummy smile.’ In a gummy smile, too much gum line is seen above the upper teeth when the individual is smiling fully. This extra gum tissue detracts from the beauty of a smile. And, it often causes those with the trait to ‘hold back’ rather than allow a full smile to emerge. It can even cause people to cover their smile with a hand to conceal what they feel is an unattractive flaw.

Katie Couric - example of gummy smile.

Katie Couric – example of gummy smile.

A healthy smile should never feel awkward. However, the appearance of a smile can have tremendous impact on self-esteem, self-confidence and of course, appearance. While it is important to have a healthy smile, it is also beneficial to our self-image that we have a smile that makes us feel good on the inside and out.

A gummy smile can be repaired easily with modern techniques, and with exceptional comfort and reduced healing time. This is done by gum contouring. In this procedure, a ‘gingivectomy’ is performed that removes excess gum tissue above the teeth.

We begin by anesthetizing the gums and carefully trim the excess tissue. After the procedure, some tenderness or swelling may occur, which can be minimized by applying an ice pack to the affected area for a day. While most discomfort is managed with over-the-counter pain medications, prescription strength options are available for patients who desire them.

Healing time depends on the individual and can vary from a few days to a few weeks. Patients who smoke can expect the longer healing time.  This is because the chemicals in cigarette smoke are very drying to oral tissues. Dryness slows the body’s ability to support a proper pace of healing.

Most gingivectomies are followed by crown lengthening procedures that enhance the appearance of the teeth most visible in a smile. Crown lengthening uses porcelain veneers or crowns to give a beautiful, even smile line.

The costs for repairing a gummy smile will vary according to the severity of the condition and subsequent addition of crowns or veneers. However, we’ve seen remarkable results with those who have had the procedure. They seem to transform into a more outgoing, vibrant personality through a fabulous smile that gets shared often!

Begin with a consultation to discuss the gingivectomy procedure and if subsequent crown lengthening is recommended. Call 828-274-9440 for a time that is convenient to you.

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