What is a gum lift?
A gum lift may also be referred to as gum recontouring, gum contouring, crown lengthening, or a gingivectomy.
It is a minimally-invasive cosmetic procedure that involves reshaping or removing excess or uneven gum tissue, to expose more of the teeth and improve the aesthetics of your smile. It can also adjust the appearance of teeth that appear too short or too wide.
A gum lift can be performed on one tooth if the gum line is uneven, or on all the front teeth.
A gummy smile, technically known as ‘excessive gingival display’, is when too much gum tissue shows above the top teeth when you smile. The aim of a gum lift is to show more teeth and less gum, by ensuring the gum line is in the best possible position to show off your teeth. This involves making sure the gums are symmetrical, and in proportion with your smile. Gum contouring can make a dramatic difference to the overall balance and appearance of your smile.
A gum lift for cosmetic purposes is usually only performed on the front teeth, as this is the most visible section of your smile. It can be performed as a single procedure, or in combination with other cosmetic treatments such as dental veneers or crowns.
A gum lift may also be performed as a treatment for gum disease (periodontal disease). The aim in this situation is to remove and reshape unhealthy gum tissue to reduce pockets between the teeth and gums (which can harbour calculus, bacteria and infection). For more information about gum disease please click here.
What causes a gummy smile?
Common causes of a gummy smile include:
- Excessive gum tissue (known as gingival hypertrophy):
An overgrowth of gum tissue can make your teeth appear short because your gums are covering too much of the tooth surface (enamel).
- Shortened crown length (teeth that are small in comparison to the gums):
This can be due to genetics, tooth wear (which can grind down the length of teeth), or if the teeth did not erupt properly and remain partially covered by gum tissue.
- An upper lip that is shorter than average.
- A hyperactive upper lip:
In this case the lip may be of normal/average length when resting, but when smiling the muscles that control the skin beneath the nose raise the lip up too far, exposing more of the gums. Some patients with a hyperactive upper lip are also unable to close their mouth completely. A treatment option for this cause is muscle relaxant injections, which you can read more about below under ‘alternative treatment’.
- An elongated upper jaw bone (long maxillary alveolar bone):
This is the bone that holds the roots of your upper teeth.
- An overgrowth of bone in the upper jaw (vertical maxillary excess):
This can make the gums bulge out.
Gum lift procedure
The procedure is quick (usually completed in just one appointment), quite straightforward, and is generally well tolerated under local anaesthetic (to numb the treatment area).
However, if preferred we do have sedation options available including inhalation sedation (‘happy gas’), oral sedatives and IV sedation to ensure you are comfortable for the duration of the procedure. You can read more about these options here.
We perform laser gum sculpting with an advanced soft-tissue laser.
The laser is used to gently remove and reshape excess gums in small increments, to provide the optimum ratio of gums to teeth for your unique facial profile.
The laser cauterises the gums (which seals off the blood vessels) to minimise or prevent bleeding. This also means no stitches are needed.
For treatment of a hyperactive upper lip, we can provide muscle relaxant injections as an alternative to laser gum contouring.
The product is injected in the area between your nose and lip, temporarily paralysing the muscle and preventing it from lifting too high when you smile.
We provide this service as part of our dento-facial aesthetics services, which you can read more about here.
This procedure is straightforward and generally well tolerated under local anaesthetic (to numb the treatment area). However, we do have sedation options available (including inhalation sedation ‘happy gas’) if requested.
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