When we think of a beautiful smile, what comes to mind for many of us are sparkling white, well-shaped teeth. And while that’s certainly true, an even, healthy looking gumline also plays an important role. Excess gum tissue can make teeth appear too short, receded gums can make them look too long, and an uneven gumline can distract from an otherwise terrific smile.
What is a Beautiful Gumline?
Healthy gums fit tightly around the necks of your teeth, and the gumline that shows teeth to their best advantage has two additional characteristics, both measured when you’re smiling widely. The first is that the upper gumline evenly follows the upper lip line. The second is located by an imaginary horizontal line that is drawn between the two corners of your smiling lips. About 75 to 100 percent of your upper teeth should show below this line. This also means that no gum tissue should show below the line.
Not everyone is born with a naturally beautiful gumline. In fact, according to a recent poll by the American Academy of Periodontology, 80 percent of consumers aren’t happy with their smile. Fortunately, we have a range of surgical procedures that can sculpt your gums so that they show your teeth to their best advantage.
We use gingivoplasty to trim healthy gum tissues around teeth. This minor surgical procedure is used when your gums are healthy, but just need to be reshaped to create a more pleasing smile.
This procedure, sometimes called a gum lift, is used to remove excess gum tissues. There are many reasons why you might have excess gums. One of the most common is periodontal disease, which makes gum tissues swell and sometimes thicken. Another common cause can occur along with orthodontic treatment. Since braces collect food and bacteria very easily, a thick plaque can form on the teeth and gums. If the plaque isn’t regularly removed by thorough brushing and flossing, and regular professional cleanings, the plaque buildup can also cause overgrown gums.
In other cases, certain medications, like anti-seizure medicines or beta blockers, cause the gum tissues to overgrow. And occasionally, the way permanent teeth grow in can cause excess gum tissues. Children’s teeth are naturally covered with more gum tissues than adults’ teeth are, but as the mouth matures, the gums usually recede somewhat, revealing a beautiful proportion of tooth to gum. When this recession doesn’t happen correctly, a gingivectomy may be called for.
In some cases, the bone around the teeth may also need to be reshaped to expose more of the natural tooth. In this case, the entire procedure is often called a crown lengthening.
Sometimes called soft tissue grafting, this procedure is used to cover teeth when there is not enough gum tissue to do the job. Most often, we’ll remove some soft tissue from elsewhere in the mouth, stitch it in place to cover the exposed tooth, and then sculpt it to a pleasing shape.
There are several causes that can lead to long-looking teeth. Periodontal disease is often the culprit here. It can cause gums to pull away from the tooth and expose the tooth root. Aggressive tooth brushing, brushing with a hard-bristled brush, or wearing pierced mouth jewelry can also wear gum tissues away.
For More Information
If there are improvements you’d like to make to your smile, we can help. Give our office a call, or ask at your next appointment.