What is gum contouring?

Gum contouring is a procedure that changes the shape of your gums for either medical or cosmetic purposes. Depending on the patient’s needs, tissue can be added to a receding gumline, or excessive gum tissue can be removed from an overly gummy smile.

What causes disproportionate gums?

There are many reasons why a person may have uneven gums. A receding gumline could be caused by years of aggressive brushing, an acidic diet, or a sign of periodontal disease. Gums that cover a large portion of the teeth are often caused by genetics but could also be due to inflammation from poor oral hygiene. Inflamed gums due to poor oral care can sometimes be treated with a dental cleaning and do not require gum contouring.

Gum Contouring

When is gum contouring needed?

Since most people use gum contouring to reshape their gums and improve the appearance of their smile it is typically considered a cosmetic dentistry procedure. There is no medical need to reshape gums unless the patient is experiencing pain or if left untreated the issue could progress. Large gums that grow over the crown of the tooth could inhibit a patient’s ability to chew while receding gums can expose the roots of the tooth and cause pain. These are examples of when a gum contouring procedure may be done for medial purposes rather than cosmetic.

How is a gum contouring procedure done?

Depending on the nature of the procedure, gum contouring is performed by either a periodontist or a cosmetic dentist. In most cases the patient remains awake for the procedure and receives only local anesthesia. If the gums are being reduced, the dentist may use a laser or a scalpel to remove the excess tissue and sculpt the gumline. If the gums are being enhanced, the dentist will remove tissue from another part of the mouth and secure it to the existing gumline. The length of time can vary depending on the extent of the procedure, but typically takes 1-2 hours to complete.

cartoon tooth

Did you know?

In 1994 the FDA approved the use of lasers in the dental industry which are now widely used, including for gum contouring procedures.

How long does it take to recover?

While there is little downtime after gum contouring, it can take weeks to fully heal depending on the magnitude of the procedure. During this time, you may have to limit certain activities depending on your tolerance. Eating a soft food diet and brushing your teeth lightly is recommended while your gums feel sensitive or tender. This will help you feel more comfortable and prevent any damage to the sutures. Over-the-counter medication can be taken for the pain, and your dentist may also prescribe an antibiotic mouth rinse to prevent infection. During your scheduled post-procedure appointment, your dentist will evaluate your healing process and make further recommendations if needed.

How much does gum contouring cost?

Everyone’s’ gumlines are different and require a unique procedure, but costs can range anywhere from $50 a tooth to $3,000 for the entire top of the mouth. Since this is most often a cosmetic procedure, expect that all costs will need to be paid out of pocket. If you are undergoing the procedure for medical reasons your insurance company may pay a portion of the procedure.