Gums are sometimes called gingivae. The gums are made of soft tissues which surround the teeth to keep the teeth secured in the mouth. The soft tissues of gums are dense and are attached to the bone beneath them. Gums are coral pink in or darker depending on the pigmentation of individual.
Bacteria and viruses may attack the gums. When gums are not in perfect health, they change color and may bleed or become painful. When dental health is not perfect, the gums become diseased, and they require periodontal treatment. The problems associated with teeth mostly originate from gums.
Gums surround the teeth; each individual has different shape of the gums which is visible to us. The shape or contour of the gums gives the individual smile its identity. Till date, when thinking about a better smile, people used to think about teeth. But now, dental fraternity has realized that gums are also a major contributor to a better smile. People have started to think about large or small gums around the teeth and want to do something about it.
What is gum contouring?
There are many cosmetic procedures to improve the smile of individuals. Gum contouring is one of the cosmetic procedures done for aesthetic reasons that allow people to improve their smile thereby improving their appearance. Gum contouring can change the shape of gums, either by cutting away excess gums or restore receded gum tissue. Dental surgeons lift the gum up in the upper teeth to show more of your teeth or graft gum tissues to show less of your teeth.
Some people have very prominent gums and others have very modest amount of gums. Excessive gums give a gummy smile and receded gum tissues give a toothy smile.
The reasons vary for the shape of the gums an individual has, Genetics is the reason why we have the gums that we have. But sometimes, there is abnormal growth of teeth, worn-down teeth and also medication for some other ailment that you may have, which has affected the teeth and gums.
So many times when we stand in front of the mirror and look at ourselves, we want to change the look or appearance of our smile. It is the way we look at ourselves that helps us decide whether we want to think in terms of gum contour in our mouth. It is totally a personal decision. Now it is possible to discuss the shape of your gums with your dentist.
How is gum contouring done?
The gum contouring surgery is a branch of advanced dentistry. The dental profession will take the decision on how to go about the surgery after consultation with other health professionals associated with the individual. Gum contouring surgery will be done with the consent of the individual after discussions of all the aspects of the surgery.
Apart from cosmetic reasons, gum contouring surgery is done for health reasons also. When gums have become diseased, they need to be treated for infection, and while treating the gums, if the individual decides to give it a shape, the dental surgeon can do it. Many times, the gums recede excessively which brings the teeth in a more exposed position endangering the roots. In such a situation the gums need to be grafted and regrown. This also calls for gum reshaping or gum contouring surgery.
Most of the time the dentist will use a local anaesthetic to lift the gums if it is done for aesthetic reasons.
Other terms used for gum contouring surgery
Many dentists prefer to use different terms for gum contouring. Gum lift is also a common reference to gum contouring. Some dentists refer to gum contour as gum shaping surgery. When the laser is used to reshape the gums it is called reshaping gums and when scalpel is used in the surgery, it is called gum contouring surgery. But these terms can be used interchangeably.
After doing the surgery, there is a time lapse which needs to be observed before you can use your teeth fully as before. The recovery period depends on the type of surgery. If the gums were cut, and sutured, the recovery will be gradual. Whereas laser surgery to give shape to gums heals faster, mostly on the same day, depending on the extent of work done. Regardless of use of laser or scalpel, there will be a certain amount of swelling to be expected. A little discomfort also takes place because of cutting and reshaping of gums. Your dentist will give instructions on how to deal with pain or discomfort. Most of the time icepacks applied for 15 minutes on your face gives relief. Some individuals are put on antibiotics also to heal the wound, and to safeguard against infections. The pain factor during surgery depends on how much cutting away or grafting is done on the patient. The procedure itself may cause some pain, but in any case, the surgeon will have used medications to prevent the painful feeling.
Limitations before and after the surgery
Like any other surgical procedure, the gum contouring and reshaping requires certain precautions. The dentist will ask you to get yourself checked for health of your heart, hyper tension and blood sugar levels. There will be restriction on what and how much food you can take for a period of time. You have to take care about your choice of food during recovery after the surgery. Usually a soft diet is advised consisting of ice creams, yogurt, soups and soft food which should not put pressure on your teeth and gums. A follow up visit is mandatory before you can resume eating normal foods. It will be asked by the surgeon for you to go slow on eating hard food till the gums have recovered fully. You will be allowed to eat solid food after the dentist determines the health of your gums. In fact, brushing of teeth also needs to be done softly with a soft brush.
When the gum contouring surgery is done for diseased gums, the recovery period may be longer than cosmetic reasons surgery. The dentist will have to check for infection making sure that no trace of infection remains.