What is a Gum Lift/Gum Recontouring?
A gum lift is a clinical procedure performed by a dentist, which reshapes the gum line to expose more tooth and create a more symmetrical gum line. It is also called gum recontouring, gum sculpting, or gingivectomy.
Gum lifts may also be performed to reconstruct the gums (aka gum reconstruction) which builds back gum to cover more of the teeth when the gum has receded, due to periodontal disease or gum loss due to aging.
The gum lift procedure removes gum tissue from the top of the teeth, which reduces the “gumminess” of the smile and shows more teeth. People are often concerned about the ratio of gum to teeth: a gum lift recreates the gumline to show more of the teeth, and reduce the appearance of the gums. Gum contouring can also be performed to even out uneven or asymmetrical gums, or to correct loss of tissue between, around, or over the teeth.
Gum lifts are a common procedure for adults, either for cosmetic or medical reasons. It may be performed to simply improve the appearance of the gumline and the symmetry of the smile, or as a medical procedure to reduce gum inflammation. The teeth and dental roots must be healthy enough to support removal of some gum without putting the tooth at risk.
Gum lifts can be performed in a dentist’s office using local anesthetic, rather than full sedation. It is considered very safe, with a recovery time of less than a week for minor gum lifts.
Gum lifts can be done during Invisalign or braces treatment by a dentist, although some individuals may wait until treatment is over to decide whether gum lifts are right for them.
Gum Lift Pros & Cons
While gum lifts/gum contouring surgery is a largely cosmetic procedure, they are still medical interventions. It is important to consider all aspects of such a procedure, to make sure it is right for your health and your smile.
Pros of Gum Contouring Surgery
- Procedure takes only 1 visit to the dentist or periodontist
- Requires only local anesthesia
- Outpatient: do not need to stay overnight
- Recovery is generally quick: about a week for most cosmetic cases
- Procedure is not very painful, and tenderness only lasts a few days
- Gum removal can boost oral health and make teeth easier to clean
- Results are immediate and permanent: gums do not grow back, does not require follow-up visits
- New laser techniques are faster and more effective than ever
Cons of Gum Contouring Surgery
- May cause tooth sensitivity: removing gum may expose more of the tooth, causing sensitivity to heat or cold
- Not a medical treatment for gum disease: although gum recontouring may be part of your treatment for periodontal disease or gum decay, this procedure alone may not be enough. Consult your dentist for more information on your case.
- Potential for infection: like all medical surgeries, infection is always possible after the procedure. Keep the area clean and follow your dentist’s instructions carefully to prevent infection.
- Usually not covered by insurance: since gum lifts are considered cosmetic, a gum lift alone is not usually covered by insurance (the procedure may be covered if performed as part of treatment for gum disease)
- Doesn’t perfect your smile: uneven or excessive gum tissue can cause your smile to appear asymmetrical, but if the teeth themselves are crooked or uneven, a gum lift alone will not fix the appearance of the smile. Orthodontic care may be necessary to correct these dental issues.
- Can be costly: certain cases may require more expensive contouring surgery, and because the procedure is not covered by insurance, the price tag may turn some consumers away from gum lifts.
What Happens During the Gum Lift Procedure?
A gum lift procedure or gum contouring surgery happens in a dentist’s office: you do not need to go to the hospital or stay overnight. Generally, the procedure requires only local anesthesia, but for more complex cases or for cases treating periodontal disease, general anesthesia may be necessary.
Typically, gum lifts take about 20 minutes to 2 hours, depending on complexity. After discussing your case and your desired outcomes with you, the dentist will use either a laser, scalpel, or ceramic bur to cut away the gum tissue to be removed and reshape the gum line to your preferred specifications.
Each technique is effective, but many orthodontists prefer ceramic burs, which provide several advantages: less cost, less trauma to the mouth, and less time to complete the procedure. Depending on your specific case, a scalpel or laser may be more effective, so your doctor will decide on the best technique for your procedure.
If your dentist uses a scalpel, they will usually close the area with stitches (sutures), which will either dissolve or need to be removed in the weeks following the procedure. Newer technology has allowed for gum lifts to be performed with lasers or ceramic burs, more precise contouring tools which may not require stiches. Gum contouring by laser or bur is generally faster and less painful than with a scalpel, with a shorter recovery time.
A gum lift procedure can be performed during braces treatment: see the photos below for how gum recontouring can be performed as part of your orthodontic treatment.
Recovery After Gum Contouring Surgery: Is It Painful?
While you may experience mild pain or discomfort after the anesthesia wears off, gum lifts are not very painful, and the recovery is relatively simple. There are many ways to alleviate pain, including ice packs, mouth rinses, and over-the-counter pain medication.
You can go home directly after surgery (if you’ve received general anesthesia, someone will need to drive you or accompany you home). You’ll have to be gentle to your mouth during recovery: rinse with a salt-water solution or an alcohol-free mouthwash to keep the area clean.
There may be swelling or mild inflammation, which can cause tenderness or pain. Cold beverages or cold soft foods like ice cream or smoothies can soothe the discomfort, as well as an ice pack against your cheeks. If pain persists, try an over-the-counter medication such as ibuprofen or advil (avoid aspirin).
Avoid crunchy, sticky, or hard foods: you’ll need to eat soft foods like noodles, yogurt, soft cooked vegetables, or hard-boiled eggs, while your gums heal. It is especially important to avoid any foods with small seeds, like kiwis or poppyseed baked goods, because the small seeds can get under your gums and cause inflammation or infection.
If you have sutures, you may need to go back to the dentist around 1 week after the procedure to have the stitches removed.
Once the gum lift procedure has healed and if you are pleased with the results, you’re done! Your gums will not grow back, so there’s no need to go back for touch-ups.
How Gum Recontouring Improves Your Smile & Oral Health
Can gum contouring surgery actually boost your oral health? In fact, it can!
Gum contouring surgery is a popular cosmetic surgery, which can enhance the appearance of your smile by making it less “gummy” and improving your facial symmetry. It can also reduce swelling and inflammation of the gums, especially after braces or Invisalign, which can sometimes cause gum irritation. Gingival/gum lifts can be done immediately after the removal of braces.
But removing some gum tissue can also make it easier to brush and clean your teeth, reduce plaque and tartar from building up in hard-to-reach places between your teeth, Recontoured gums have less pocket depth between the gums and teeth, which reduces those areas where bacteria are likely to invade and evade brushing and flossing, causing gum disease or dental decay.
Gum reconstruction – or gingival graft – is another form of gum surgery that is both cosmetic and beneficial to your health: gum recession, caused by genetics, rough brushing, or periodontal disease, can expose the tooth roots and cause or accelerate dental decay.
There are clear benefits to gum recontouring: but whether you do it for health or cosmetic reasons – or both – you can count on an improved, beautiful, and healthy smile!
How Much Does a Gum Lift Cost?
Prices for gum lifts range from $400 to $2,000. This wide range in prices is due to the specifics of each case, as well as the provider performing the procedure and the region where they work.
For simple gum tissue removal around several teeth, the price may be less than $500. But for gum contouring that requires more extensive re-shaping, for procedures combined with crown lengthening to improve the ratio of gum-to-teeth, or as part of treatment for periodontal disease, the cost may be higher, as much as $3,000 or more.
Gum recontouring is not generally covered by insurance, especially if it is for cosmetic reasons only. For medical purposes, it is more likely that dental insurance may cover gum contouring surgery.
Many dentists and periodontists offer free consultations to discuss gum lifts or recontouring; find an experienced provider near you to learn more about the process, and whether this procedure is right for you!
Does Insurance Cover a Gum Lift?
Generally, gum lifts are performed as a cosmetic procedure, so they are usually not covered by insurance.
However, if the gum contouring is part of a larger treatment for gum disease or advanced gum recession, it is more likely that the procedure will be covered by insurance.
If you are interested in gum contouring surgery, consult with your dentist about your specific case, and inquire with your insurance provider about procedures such as gum lifts to find out if you can use insurance to help pay for some or all of it.
Gum Lift Before & After Photos
If you’re concerned about the “gumminess” of your smile, or just have certain features you dislike about the appearance of your gums, a gum lift or gum recontouring can be an excellent, quick, and relatively painless intervention to improve the appearance of your smile!
Diamond Braces offers affordable, medical-grade gum contouring surgeries to provide patients with beautiful, healthy, even gum lines. We can do these procedures before, during, or after your braces or Invisalign treatment; and we offer gum lifts without any orthodontic treatment, too!
Schedule a complimentary consultation to see if this procedure is right for you, and how our expert orthodontists can help you achieve a beautiful, healthy smile, from your gums to your dental roots.