A Guide to Gum Contouring

Sometimes, it isn’t always your teeth that are the problem with your smile. Your gums can cause aesthetic problems too. Sometimes, people can lose confidence in the quality of their smile if they think that too much of their gums show.

The good news is that this is an easy problem for a dentist to remedy. There is a technique available known as ‘gum contouring’. The dentist will use a laser to trim away and shape the gum tissue so that it looks neater and in proportion to the teeth.

It sounds like a complicated procedure – and talk of lasers make it sound very James Bond. However, it is a relatively straightforward procedure compared to many aspects of modern dentistry. Gum contouring can usually be completed in one visit to your dentist, so there is no need for lots of time-consuming, repeat visits to check that the procedure has been effective. The results are visible after the first visit.

One question most patients want the answer to before they commit to treatment is: how painful is gum contouring? In the past, before laser treatment had been developed, gum surgery could be very painful. Gum contouring, however, is a largely pain-free procedure. The beauty of it is that the laser naturally seals up the wounds as it cuts away the gums. There is no excess bleeding, no need for stitches, no open wounds which take time to heal.

There can still be some pain felt after the procedure. Your gums will probably feel sore, tender and inflamed. However, recovery times are usually fast and most patients are can manage their discomfort with over-the-counter painkillers. It may also help to use a mouthwash.

Gum contouring is such a straightforward procedure that it also only requires a local anaesthetic. So you do not need to be ‘put to sleep’, with a general anaesthetic. In fact, apart from some numbness in the jaw, you should not feel any seriously debilitating after-effects.

So how much does gum contouring cost? As with most dental treatments and procedures, costs vary according to the level of expertise of the dentist and the quality of the practice. However, for patients who require the right sort of work, gum contouring can make a dramatic difference to their smile for a relatively low cost. Often, treatment can cost from £150-£250.

In many cases, however, gum contouring will not provide a complete solution – it will instead form an essential element in a restorative programme to provide overall improvements to your smile. In some cases, your dentist may need to take extra steps to stop the gums growing back – such as removing some bone from the top of your teeth.

Gum contouring is a purely cosmetic technique and will only be performed on your front teeth, which are visible when you smile. As we mentioned above, the results are immediate and the procedure should not disrupt your lifestyle. The gums only grow back in a very small number of cases, so the results are permanent.

Looking to the future, you will want to maintain your newly shaped gums, keep them healthy and ensure that you teeth remain healthy too. Immediately after your gum contouring, your dentist will advise you not to smoke, as this will slow the healing process. In the immediate aftermath of the surgery, your gums will feel tender so you must be very careful when brushing your teeth. If they are too sore to brush, use a mouthwash for a day before trying again. If the problem persists, talk to your dentist.

Finding a dentist who offers gum contouring is becoming easier and easier as the technique becomes more widely practised. As the market for cosmetic dentistry increases in the UK, more and more dentists are recognising that learning the latest training and techniques is a valuable investment for their practice. At the same time, it also helps to remind yourself from time to time that the results of the procedure are permanent – those gums will not grow back. So you may want to choose a slightly more expensive practitioner, to ensure that you get the results you hope and wish for.