Do you have a “gummy smile” in which excessive gum tissue makes your teeth look too small? Gum contouring may help.

Gum contouring is a cosmetic procedure in which your cosmetic dentist changes the shape of your gums to enhance the cosmetic appeal of your smile. Specifically, your dentist removes just the right amount of gum tissue to make your teeth appear to be longer.

Gum Contouring Procedure

Dentists perform gum contouring in a dental office. They typically perform this in-office procedure in a single visit.

If you are like most patients who undergo gum contouring, you will remain awake during the procedure. Your dentist will administer anesthesia to numb the gum. Next, your dentist will use a scalpel or soft tissue laser to sculpt the gumline and expose more of the tooth’s surface area. Your cosmetic dentist may use sutures to hold the treated gum tissue in place as it heals.

In some cases, patients have receding gumlines that make their teeth look too long – receding gumlines can also increase your risk for developing tooth decay and tooth loss. Gum contouring may involve adding tissue that your dentist removes from another part of your mouth.

Gum contouring usually takes about 1 to 2 hours. The exact length of your procedure depends largely on the extent of contouring and sculpting your gums require for an appealing smile.

What should I expect after gum contouring?

The anesthesia administered by your dentist prior to the gum contouring procedure will wear off some time after you are done with the procedure. You can expect some numbness and tenderness after gum contouring. Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen, are usually enough to control the discomfort. Your dentist may prescribe a pain reliever if you have had an extensive amount of gum contouring in a single appointment.

Applying an ice pack or cold compress to your mouth can also help reduce discomfort. Apply the compress or cold pack for 15 to 20 minutes at a time, allowing your skin to warm up in between sessions. Repeat a few times a day for one to two days after gum contouring.

How long is recovery?

Gum contouring requires very little downtime – limiting activities for a day or two should be enough, depending on how you feel and the amount of tenderness you may have. It may take days or weeks for your gums to heal completely; recovery depends largely on the extent of the surgery.

Because your gums and mouth will likely be tender or sensitive, you may want to plan on eating soft foods for the first two to three days after gum contouring. Soft foods may include:

  • Soup
  • Yogurt
  • Eggs
  • Pasta
  • Jell-O
  • Applesauce

You may benefit from avoiding certain foods after gum contouring, as some food can actually irritate the treatment area and slow recovery. Do not eat foods containing small seeds, such as strawberries and poppy seeds, as the seeds can get under the gum to cause irritation. Other foods to avoid may include spicy foods and crunchy foods.

Your dentist may prescribe an antibiotic mouth rinse to help reduce your risk of infection.

Be sure to follow up with your dentist a few days or a week after you undergo gum contouring. During that visit, your dentist will assess how well your gums are healing and look for signs of infection, which include pain, swelling, and discharge coming from your gums.

You’ll typically have a follow-up appointment a few days or a week after the procedure. Your doctor will check your gums to monitor how you’re healing and look for signs of an infection.For more information about gum contouring, consult with your cosmetic dentist. For your convenience, Kingwest Dental Studio is open seven days a week. We also proudly offer virtual consultations.