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Gum contouring
Dr Mariam Chung Reviewed by Dr Mariam Chung, Dentist

Whether your concerns are cosmetic or health-related, gum contouring is a surgical option that may help with excess gum tissue or a low gum line.

If you don't like the way your gums look, talk to a dentist about gum contouring surgery* (some people call it a “gum lift”). This attempts to reshape your gum line and change the look of your smile. 

Lots of people choose gum reshaping for cosmetic reasons, but sometimes this procedure can be part of a larger treatment plan designed to address overall dental health issues.

What is gum contouring?

Dental professionals can use gum surgery to reduce gum tissue that sits lower and covers part of the teeth (a “gummy smile”). Whether the gum tissue is “too low” or covering up “too much” of the tooth is usually subjective, unless a dentist concludes that it’s causing or worsening a dental problem.

You might consider this procedure for aesthetic reasons if you don't like the way your teeth and gums look when you smile. There are also functional reasons to consider — if excess gum tissue is making it harder to clean your teeth or increasing your risk of oral health problems, a dentist may recommend contouring.

Gum contouring might be part of a treatment plan if you're undergoing other cosmetic or regenerative treatments, like dental crowns, veneers or a smile makeover.

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Gum contouring: what to expect

A dentist, oral surgeon or specialist periodontist may perform this procedure. Your dentist or surgeon should explain what your smile will look like after your treatment is finished as well as outline any potential risks so you can decide if it's right for you.

Depending on your needs and the equipment available at the dental clinic, they may offer laser gum contouring or traditional surgery using a scalpel. The surgery involves carefully removing excess gum tissue to reveal more of the teeth below and sculpting a new gum line. A local anaesthesia will be used to numb the area. 

What to expect after gum contouring

It can take from a few days to several weeks for your gums to recover from surgery. You can help the healing process by sticking to soft foods and brushing and flossing your teeth gently.

If your gums feel painful, you can try to manage it by taking over-the-counter pain medication (try to avoid aspirin, which may prolong your recovery). If pain, swelling or other symptoms continue for more than a few days, make an appointment with your dentist or surgeon for a check-up.

Is gum contouring safe? 

All surgical procedures involve risk. Consulting with a registered professional and following all post-treatment instructions are often the best ways to lower your risk of a problem. In Australia, you can check practitioners’ registration online

The risks of gum contouring include damage to your remaining gum tissue, swelling or bleeding, and infection.

How much does gum contouring cost?

The cost of gum contouring depends on the specific treatments you're having and how much contouring you need. Find a dentist near you for a more precise quote.

Since gum contouring by itself is usually considered a cosmetic treatment, it isn't normally covered by dental insurance. However, some dentists might offer payment plans to help you divide the cost into more manageable payments.

What are the alternatives to gum contouring?

If a gummy smile is caused by your upper lip rising too high, this could be treated using cosmetic injections. However, this treatment isn’t usually permanent and may require ongoing follow-up visits.

If you simply want to change the length or shape of your teeth, your dentist might suggest dental crowns or veneers to give your teeth a longer appearance rather than altering your gums.

Speak with a professional about gum contouring

Find a dental clinic near you to find out if they offer gum contouring or start a discussion about your options.

 

*Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.

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This purpose of this article is to promote better understanding of dental health topics. It’s not meant to replace professional advice or diagnosis. Always talk to a dentist, doctor or other qualified healthcare professional if you have a question about dental or medical conditions.

 

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