When you think about a smile you probably think about teeth. But the gums can actually affect the way your smile looks! If you have a gummy smile, you know this all too well. Additionally, if you suffer from a gum line that is too high then you’ve probably realized it can make teeth look longer than they are (not to mention tooth sensitive).
It’s understandable when people are self-conscious because too much or too little gum tissue can make your pearly whites look disproportional for your smile.
Luckily, there’s actually some pretty awesome options to get your smile looking the way you’d like it to.
The Gummy Smile
Obviously, we’re talking about how gum line affects a smile, but gum recession and gums that cover too much of your tooth are basically opposite situations.
Your smile can appear gummy for a couple of reasons which is why it’s important to first rule out whether it’s simply irritation or inflammation. But if you have excess gum tissue which covers the surface of your teeth then gum contouring, or gum reshaping, can be done to make your gums proportional to your teeth.
In this case, laser gum contouring is an option. This is where Dr. Powell uses a dental laser to painlessly shape the gum line. Similarly, crown lengthening will restore the tooth and gum proportions. This treatment reshapes your gum tissue and the bone around it to expose the crown proportionally.
On the other hand, if the teeth are simply too short because of another dental issue like teeth grinding, we can help restore a natural-looking gum line by lengthening the teeth with veneers.
The Receding Gums
Now we can get into the other situation we mentioned—gum recession! Typically, the number one cause of gum recession is gum disease caused by bacterial inflammation which destroys gum tissue and the underlying bone material.
In this case, it’s essential that the bacterial infection is addressed before you even try to do something about the gum recession.
Things like laser therapy (where a dental laser is used to get rid of bacterial colonies) and scaling & root planing can be done (where tartar build-up is removed around the teeth and gumline, and the exposed tooth roots are smoothed out to keep bacteria from adhering to them and causing infection). With laser therapy, no anesthesia is needed and recovery and healing are faster than with normal gum surgery.
As you might’ve already realized, it’s important to understand why your gum recession is happening before we go into possible solutions for it.
It would be silly to treat the symptom (aka recession) without addressing the cause.
What causes gum recession?
- Failing to brush and floss consistently can result in receding gums. This creates a buildup of bacterial plaque between the teeth and under the gum line. Plaque that isn’t removed consistently every day quickly hardens into tartar deposits. Even when you do brush and floss every day, there are areas of the mouth that are hard to reach and clean effectively, allowing tartar to gain a foothold. This is why you need to see our dentist, Dr. James Powell, every three to six months for a professional cleaning to rid your mouth of hardened plaque.
- Brushing and flossing too hard. Scouring your enamel aggressively wears it down over time but it can also affect your gums. This is why we recommend using a soft-bristled toothbrush so you can thoroughly clean your teeth without damaging precious enamel or harming your gum tissue. When flossing, remember to do so carefully around the gum line so you don’t do damage.
- If your teeth are crooked or your bite alignment is off, this can harm the gums and jawbone and result in gum recession.
- If you have ill-fitting dental work you can damage the gum line as well. This includes crowns, bridges and dentures.
- Grinding your teeth when you are stressed or in your sleep can cause your gums to pull back from your teeth.
- Using tobacco is detrimental to your oral mucous by disrupting gum tissue cells and over time can lead to the recession of gum tissue.
- Be aware that oral piercings can irritate the gums and cause inflammation and recession.
- Your family DNA can affect your susceptibility to gum disease and gum recession.
- Poor diet can contribute to gum disease if your tissues aren’t getting the nutrients they need to resist infections.
Gum Recession Solutions
Alright, after the cause is addressed there are a couple of options to restore your gum line.
We mentioned laser gum contouring for low gum lines but this can also be used if you have a few teeth with gum lines that are a little too high. Those teeth won’t be treated, but rather, the gum line can be raised on the surrounding teeth to make everything look more uniform.
Obviously one of the best things about this option is that it’s pain-free. And there’s typically zero downtime and a quick recovery.
If the gum recession is too high to contour the surrounding teeth, then gum tissue grafting could be another option. An experienced dentist or periodontist will essentially reattach tissue to the gums, which will restore the gum length that was missing. Since this treatment is a little more involved, there is a little bit of recovery time but you’ll have a wonderful smile afterward.
Treating your gums with innovative, high-tech options
As you can see there are quite a few options when it comes to treating a gummy smile and receding gum lines.
The benefits of having a dentist with advanced training and technology mean painless treatment options with very little (if any) downtime. What’s more is the HUGE benefit in also having a dentist who looks at the cause instead of just the symptom so that you don’t have to continue treating the same issues over and over again—it can be done right the first time.
Exceptional Dentistry has the high-tech office, the highly educated dentist and the caring team you need to help your gummy smile. We’re ready to help you create the smile of your dreams.
Call us at (661) 349-7725 today to book your reservation with our team. You can also stop by our state-of-the-art dental office located in Palmdale, CA or simply schedule your visit with us online.