Gum treatment is a popular subject these days, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 64.7 million Americans older than 30 are affected by periodontal disease. A procedure known as gingivoplasty is one treatment option that can improve the health and look of a patient's smile. According to the American Dental Association, a gingivoplasty is defined as a surgical procedure used to reshape the gums. The procedure is performed by a periodontist, who is a dentist with advanced training to treat gum disorders. These disorders can include treating the healthy gums of a patient who would like to improve their shape or contour.
Why Is It Performed?
Most often, a gingivoplasty is performed to improve the aesthetics of a patient's smile, especially when there is excessive or asymmetrical gum tissue. Some people have a "gummy smile" or an excessive amount of gingiva or gum tissue that they feel is unattractive. A gummy smile could be caused by some medications, trauma, or simply because of your genetic make-up. Additionally, irregular contours may be the result of previous gum surgery or other dental procedures.
As a result of reshaping the gums, the tooth or crown is lengthened allowing for an attractive smile and a better foundation for dental work. A beautiful smile often corresponds to one's self-confidence. A study published in the Journal of Periodontology found that people with a nice set of teeth were perceived as trustworthy and friendly.
From an oral health standpoint, excess gum tissue may actually inhibit your ability to properly clean your teeth and control bacterial plaque build-up. Extra gum tissue can create gaps or pockets around the teeth making it difficult to disturb the plaque and food debris with regular brushing and flossing.
How Is a Gingivoplasty Performed?
Once your dentist has made the referral, the periodontist will perform a comprehensive exam, recording the pockets and areas to be treated. Then a thorough cleaning of the teeth to remove all the plaque and tartar will be done before the surgery is scheduled. It will be a same-day surgery done right in the office, but you should ask someone to bring you and drive you home.
The gingivoplasty is usually done using local anesthesia to numb the area or areas of the mouth being treated. The majority of these procedures are done using a scalpel or a soft tissue laser to achieve a smooth and even contour of the gums. It can take a few minutes or up to two hours depending on the case. After surgery, the area will be sutured and the periodontist will place a sterile, soft and pliable bandage over the treated area to protect the tissue as it heals. You will be sent home with post-op instructions and return for a follow-up visit in a week to 10 days.
Important Post-op Tips
- Maintain a soft diet while the dressing is in place.
- Use pain medication and anti-bacterial mouthwash as directed.
- Gently brush using a desensitizing toothpaste.
Remember, it is crucial to healing that you keep your mouth clean. Gentle flossing can be resumed once the dressing is removed, and some oozing and bleeding is normal around the surgical site for several weeks. If the bleeding seems heavy or excessive, you should call the periodontist right away. It will be about a month before your gums start to heal and return to their normal color. Complete healing will take several months.
Visiting your dentist and dental hygienist regularly is recommended to keep your mouth healthy and if needed, to identify and address problems. Your dentist will know the best treatment needed and refer you to a trusted specialist. Above all, the goal is a healthy smile that inspires confidence!