Is Gum Contouring Painful? Insights from the Best Dentist in Maple Ridge

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Many people consider gum contouring, also known as “gingival sculpting” or “gum recontouring,” to achieve a healthy smile. For new patients considering this dental work, you might have wondered if gum contouring is a painful procedure.

While the best dentist in Maple Ridge offers personalized treatment plans for the best oral health, it pays to know what you should expect in a gum contouring procedure and if there are alternative dental services to go for. Read more to find out. 

What is Gum Contouring?

Gum contouring is cosmetic dentistry that aims to reshape the gum line for a healthy smile. This comprehensive dental care removes excess gum tissue to make a symmetrical and aesthetically pleasing smile. While it’s primarily performed for cosmetic purposes, gum contouring can also have functional benefits, such as improving oral health by eliminating pockets where bacteria can accumulate.

What to Expect

  • Before starting, the dentist will give you local anesthesia to numb the gum area.
  • The dentist will remove excess gum tissue and reshape the gumline using scalpels or soft tissue lasers to reveal the tooth more. Sutures may be used to hold the gum tissue in place.
  • If gum tissue needs to be added due to receding gums, the dentist may take tissue from another part of your mouth, like your palate. This tissue is then secured around your teeth to lengthen and reshape your gumline.
  • The procedure’s duration varies depending on the extent of contouring needed. In most cases, gum contouring takes about 1-2 hours.

Why Consider Gum Contouring

Patients consider gum contouring for various reasons, including:

Gummy SmileSome patients have an excessive display of gum tissue when they smile, commonly called a “gummy smile.” According to Hugh Flax, a Doctor of Dental Surgery, the gingiva (or gums) can make or break the teeth’s appearance. Gum contouring helps reduce the gum tissue’s prominence, achieving a more balanced smile.
Uneven Gum LineAn uneven gum line detracts from the overall harmony of your smile. Gum contouring can address this issue by reshaping the gum tissue to create a smoother, more uniform appearance.
Tooth LengtheningOne main dental treatment is gum contouring in cases where the teeth appear short due to excessive gum tissue covering them. It can lengthen the appearance of the teeth to improve the overall proportions of your smile.

Does Gum Contouring Hurt?

Since you’ll receive local anesthesia before the procedure, you’ll feel numb from the pain during the dental care treatment. However, depending on the extent of gum reshaping or removal, you may experience some tenderness and numbness afterward.

Following the procedure, your dentist may prescribe a pain reliever, or you can opt for over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil). Dentists recommend applying an ice pack or cold compress to your mouth 15-20 minutes after the procedure to reduce pain and swelling. We also suggest visiting the best dentist regularly for quality dental care to maintain oral health.


How Long is the Recovery Process?

Recovering from gum contouring usually doesn’t require much downtime, but complete healing may take a few days or weeks for new patients. Because your gums and mouth may feel sensitive or tender initially, it’s best to stick to soft foods for about 2-3 days after the dental procedure. The dental team gives instructions on what to eat during your recovery and whether there are any foods to avoid.

You’ll likely have a follow-up dentist appointment a few days or weeks later to monitor your dental health or do routine dental cleanings. Dentists may also prescribe an antibiotic mouth rinse to help prevent infection, especially for new patients. Signs of infection to watch for include increased pain, swelling, and discharge from the gums.  


Alternatives to Gum Contouring

While gum contouring is a viable option for some patients, other less invasive yet comprehensive dental services can achieve similar results. Although this depends on your specific concerns, here are some dental care alternatives to consider:

Orthodontic Treatment

If your gummy smile or uneven gum line is due to underlying issues with tooth alignment, orthodontic treatment may be recommended. By aligning your teeth, orthodontic treatment can improve the appearance of your smile without the need for surgery.

  • Braces: Braces use brackets, bands, and wires to move your teeth into the right positions gradually. They come in various types, like metal or clear (ceramic) options.
  • Clear aligners: These removable trays, like Invisalign® and ClearCorrect®, are a popular alternative to braces. They gently shift your teeth using a series of custom-made clear sets you wear for a few weeks before switching.
  • Retainers: After braces or aligners, you’ll need a retainer to keep your teeth in place. This is like a custom mouthguard that prevents them from moving back.
  • Palate expanders: These are mainly used for growing children whose upper jaws need widening. They help create space for teeth without requiring extractions.

Veneers or Crowns

Some patients opt for dental veneers (like porcelain veneers) or crowns to mask cosmetic imperfections such as uneven gum lines or short teeth. These custom-made restorations are placed over the front surface of the teeth, effectively concealing any discrepancies in gum tissue or tooth length.

Lip Repositioning Surgery

If a gummy smile is caused by excessive lip movement, you may consider lip repositioning surgery. This falls under cosmetic dentistry and involves modifying the muscles and tissues around the lips to lessen the volume of gum tissue visible when smiling.

Botox Injections

Botox injections relax the muscles responsible for elevating the upper lip, thereby reducing the visibility of excess gum tissue when smiling. While this option provides a noninvasive alternative to gum contouring, the effects are temporary and may require periodic dental care treatments.

Crown Lengthening

Crown lengthening removes excess bones and gum tissues to expose more of the tooth’s surface. This dental practice can address a gummy smile or facilitate other dental procedures, such as crowns, veneers, and even root canals.

Gum Depigmentation

Gum depigmentation, or gum bleaching, is a cosmetic and general dentistry procedure that lightens the appearance of dark or discoloured gum tissue. This oral health treatment can improve the overall aesthetics of your smile without altering the gum line’s shape.

Periodontal Plastic Surgery

Periodontal plastic surgery may be recommended in cases of gum recession or irregularities in the gum line. This dental procedure involves reshaping the gum tissue to improve its appearance and restore a more natural gum line for healthy smiles. 

Laser Technology

Comprehensive dental care institutions with the latest advancements offer a complete range of laser treatments used in dental and cosmetic services, including:  

Diode LasersEmits two different wavelengths: approximately 800 nm and 980 nm. They’re utilized for rapid cutting, vaporizing, and bacterial reduction of tissue near tooth structure in contact mode and deeper coagulation in noncontact mode.
Argon LasersUseful in oral health dentistry as they can precisely cut, vaporize, and stop bleeding in tissues. They’re also used at low power to cure dental fillings and at a specific wavelength to see through teeth and detect problems.
Neodymium-doped yttrium-aluminum-garnet (Nd: YAG) LasersOperates at 1064 nm and has applications similar to diode and argon lasers. Some pulsed Nd: YAG lasers are FDA-cleared for selectively removing first-degree caries with minimal impact on surrounding healthy enamel.
Erbium LasersUsed in dentistry for cutting soft tissue, tooth structure, and bone. They come in two types with similar functions and can be used for precise cutting or gum contouring procedures.
Carbon Dioxide LasersGood for soft tissue procedures like removing lumps, growths, and gum tissue, but they are not strong enough to cut through bone or teeth.


Improve Oral Health With the Right Dental Services 

While gum contouring can be an effective solution for enhancing your smile, you still need to explore all available options and discuss them with your trusted dentist in Maple Ridge, British Columbia, like the Westgate Dental Centre. Our dental team can provide comprehensive dental services and personalized treatment plans per your specific dental needs. 

Our dental office offers convenient appointments and utilizes the latest technology to ensure a pleasant experience for all our patients. Contact our dental clinic so that our Maple Ridge dentists can discuss your best option.

Frequently Asked Questions

Uneven gums can result from various factors. If your gums cover a large part of your teeth, it may make your teeth look small. This could be due to family dentistry (or genetics), certain health conditions, or taking specific prescription medications.

If your gums are too high and make your teeth appear long, it may be a sign of gum recession. Gum recession happens when the gum tissue pulls back from a tooth, exposing the tooth’s root. This condition affects the appearance of your teeth and can lead to dental issues like decay and tooth loss.

General dental health services include various treatments or procedures such as: 

  • Dental exams
  • Teeth cleaning
  • Oral cancer screening
  • Fluoride treatment
  • Tooth sealants
  • Dental bridgework
  • Gingivitis treatment
  • Dentures
  • Dental implants
  • Teeth whitening
  • Wisdom tooth removal
  • Tooth extractions

In most situations, gum contouring gives lasting results. However, there’s a rare chance that gum tissue might grow back. This can occur if your dentist didn’t remove sufficient extra bone beneath your gums during the procedure. If you have any concerns about the outcomes of gum contouring, it’s best to discuss them with reliable dentists in Maple Ridge for personalized care.

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