Preventing Tooth Decay To Maintain Healthy Teeth

Scaling Back Your Gums: What It Is, Why It's Considered A Cosmetic Procedure, And What To Expect

Some people are just born with really thick and/or really high gum tissue. It is often genetic, although certain chemicals and drugs can be the cause as well. If you do not like your "gummy" smile, there is a procedure that can help. It scales back the gum tissue without causing a deficit of the tissue. Unfortunately, it is also considered a cosmetic dentistry procedure, which means that most of it will not be covered by health insurance. Here is more on this procedure and why it is considered cosmetic.

The Procedure Itself

For starters, your cosmetic dentist will numb your gums from the point where they are visible on one side when you smile big to the point on the opposite side. The dentist will mark these two points, using a semi-permanent dental marker, which then aids him or her in knowing where to start and end the procedure. When your gums are good and numb, the dentist begins with the scalpel. He or she will cut from the top of your gums down from about a quarter to half of the way, taking great care not to cut too much. The result is that you have less gum tissue and more teeth showing in your pictures than before, something you might find very appealing. 

Why It Is Cosmetic

Clearly, you are not going to die if you do not have this procedure. It is not a "life or death" situation, nor are you suffering any sort of medical issue or complication that would be resolved by this procedure. You simply want to smile with fewer gums in your photos and have a brighter, bigger, whiter smile. Those are exactly the reasons why this procedure qualifies as cosmetic and not necessary for health reasons. 

What to Expect after the Procedure

Your gums will swell. They will most definitely bleed. There will be a lot of this for a couple weeks while your gums heal. Your dentist or surgeon will send you home with a special mouth rinse to prevent infection in the cut tissues. They will eventually heal and be less high and/or less thick. While your gums heal, you will want and need to consume soft foods and take very small bites to avoid irritating the healing gums. You will also want to avoid salty and acidic foods since these will cause further inflammation of the gums. It is a lot like salt or lemon juice on a paper cut—it hurts like the dickens—so avoid those foods until the gums have completely sealed up.