Gum Contouring: Is it Right for You?

Medically Reviewed by Alfred D. Wyatt Jr., DMD on May 11, 2012

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.

"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.

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.

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Pamela K. McClain, DDS, president, American Academy of Periodontology.

Kellee Cattleman Stanton, DDS, a dentist in private practice in Eagan, Minn., and spokesperson for the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry.

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