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Gum Contouring: Is it Right for You?

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WebMD Feature

There's more to a beautiful smile than sparkling teeth. The shape of your teeth also plays a part. If your teeth look small and stubby, a treatment called gum contouring may improve your smile.

Gum Contouring: How It's Done

"Some people have very 'gummy' smiles,'" says Pamela K. McClain, DDS, president of the American Academy of Periodontology. "Their teeth look short because gum tissue extends down over the enamel."

Using a laser or other cutting tool, a periodontist or dentist removes some gum tissue, exposing a little more of the enamel of the teeth. The procedure can usually be done in one office visit. Gum contouring requires only a local anesthetic. Though you may experience some soreness afterward, gums usually heal very quickly.

In some cases, periodontists must also remove some bone along with excess gum tissue, says McClain. More extensive anesthesia may be needed. The healing time is also longer.

The Result: Bigger, Better Smiles

During contouring, dental professionals remove only excess gum tissue that extends down over the enamel. They take care not to expose the roots of the teeth. The basic shape and size of your teeth still determine the final appearance.

"Still, the results of gum contouring are immediate and can be very dramatic," says McClain.

Reviewed on May 11, 2012

How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

Number of Days Per Week I Floss

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Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

SOURCES:

American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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