Gingival sculpting, also known as gingival
contouring, is the process of reshaping the gum (gingival)
tissue around your
teeth. A cosmetic dental treatment
that can help reinvent your smile and improve your oral health,
gingival sculpting involves a minimally invasive laser procedure
to remove and re-sculpt uneven or excessive gingival tissue.
Typically, however, soft tissue sculpting also requires bone
recontouring that cannot be accomplished with a laser alone. The
result is healthy and natural-looking gums for a vital,
young-looking and attractive smile that adds to your confidence
Gingival sculpting procedures can be
performed for cosmetic reasons, as well as for oral health
reasons such as poor
dental hygiene. The latter can result
in the formation of deep gum pockets due to improper
tooth brushing and the accumulation of
plaque. Common gingival esthetic
problems that can be corrected with gingival sculpting include
gummy smile (excessive gingival
display), uneven (asymmetrical) gingival contours, the loss of
papillae (small amounts of gum tissue between your teeth) and
exposed root surfaces.
sculpting also can help address esthetic concerns of teeth that
appear "too small" or are unusually shaped. This may result when
the surrounding gum tissue has grown down and over a large
portion of the teeth, creating the illusion of small or
crooked/oddly angled teeth. The gum contouring process removes
and re-shapes the extra gum tissue to lift the gum line and
reveal more teeth and/or even out the gum line for enhanced
symmetry. This procedure removes extra gum tissue without
leaving a deficit and only exposes the part of the tooth that is
What Gingival Sculpting Involves
Gingival sculpting is most commonly
performed by periodontists and cosmetic dentists.
in-office gum contouring procedure typically requires only one
visit of about an hour. After a local anesthetic is applied to
the gums, a soft tissue laser is used to trim away, re-contour
and seal the excess gum tissue. There is only minor discomfort
and no bleeding or stitches are involved.
the procedure to reduce tissue and bone requires more time and
stitches, yet it creates no pain.
Gingival Sculpting Consultation and Treatment Planning
points of your gingival sculpting consultation and subsequent
treatment planning depends on the condition of your gums and
your sculpting objectives.
during a regular checkup, your dentist may notice that the
gingival tissues surrounding your teeth are receding or
excessive. If this is the case, your gingival sculpting
consultation may include a discussion of gingival tissue
regeneration in order to prevent, correct or stop periodontal
disease. Your dentist may suggest multiple treatment options,
such as flap surgery, bone grafts, tissue grafts, gingival
colored composite build-up or tissue stimulation.
If you are
planning a cosmetic dental procedure such as veneers or a smile
makeover, your dentist may advise you that the appearance of
your gum line is uneven, or that you have too much gum tissue
(gummy smile). If gum tissue reduction is necessary, your
dentist may discuss laser treatments to remove the excess gum
tissue — which require little-to-no healing time — or more
invasive surgical options.
As part of
your gingival sculpting treatment planning, your dentist also
will advise you of the healing times for the procedure you will
undergo, as well as whether local anesthesia or sedation
dentistry is necessary.
Keep in mind,
however, that some gingival sculpting procedures — such as those
involved with correcting minor unevenness of your gum line — may
be completed without a formal consultation or treatment plan.
Today's dental laser technology makes it possible for your
dentist to discuss and treat such conditions as gingival
asymmetry and gummy smiles during regular visits and/or cleaning
appointments. Because every case is different, other situations
may require more detailed discussion, planning and consultation.
Gingival Sculpting Recovery and Post-Procedure Care
In general, it
is not uncommon to experience minor swelling and discomfort
after the gingival sculpting procedure. The type of gingival
sculpting procedure you undergo will affect your healing time,
as well as the level of discomfort you experience during your
gingival sculpting procedures require no more than one day for
healing; however, your dentist may advise you to follow a strict
diet of soft foods or liquids for a few days. If your procedure
involves grafts or bone contouring, it will likely involve
stitches and your dentist also may limit physical activity to
prevent reopening of the surgical site. To relieve pain and, if
necessary, prevent infection, your dentist may prescribe
medications to be taken as directed.
Gingival sculpting can be performed alone,
or before and/or in combination with other cosmetic dental
procedures as part of a larger cosmetic treatment plan (e.g., a
Other techniques, such as reducing the
bone at the front of the tooth root to prevent re-growth of the
gums, also may be needed.
may be indicated as well. In some cases, in order to achieve
optimal gingival symmetry, a combination of esthetic crown
lengthening and root coverage grafting are necessary. In root
coverage grafting — also called connective tissue grafting —
soft tissue, usually from the roof of the mouth, is grafted to
cover exposed root surfaces. This prevents damage to roots,
reduces sensitivity and makes your teeth appear more attractive.
sculpting or crown lengthening refers to re-contouring both the
gum and supporting bone. During the crown lengthening procedure,
your periodontist administers conscious intravenous (IV)
sedation and a local anesthetic, and then re-contours excess gum
and bone tissue to expose more of your natural teeth.
In other instances, patients may lose gum
tissue due to poor dental hygiene (aggressive tooth brushing,
prominent teeth, orthodontic tooth movement, delicate gingival
gum disease, such as
gingivitis or periodontitis).
Papillary regeneration fills the dark spaces that may occur
between adjoining teeth resulting from the progression of
periodontitis, surgical trauma or of tooth alignment.
Additionally, root coverage procedures now can provide
predictable results with the application of connective-tissue
periodontal grafts and plastic surgery techniques.
Benefits of Gingival Sculpting
sculpting or crown lengthening is safe, fast and virtually
painless. You can continue your normal activities right after
treatment, and the results are permanent.
gingival sculpting procedure — which seals and sterilizes the
treatment area — significantly reduces your chance of infection,
minimizes inflammation and promotes fast healing. Lasers also
provide greater precision, protecting the surrounding tissue
from damage during the procedure.
sculpting can have psychological and social benefits, improving
your looks and self-confidence, encouraging you to be more
socially active and making you more willing to smile. You feel
happier and seem friendlier and more approachable.
Gingival Sculpting Risks
Gum sculpting is considered surgery, so it
is important for your periodontist or dentist to fully inform
you about any possible risks associated with the procedure
before you undergo treatment. However, since gingival sculpting
is typically performed under only local anesthesia, there's
little to fear of the risks associated with general anesthesia.
extremely rare, you may experience infection at the treatment
site, or some minor swelling and discomfort after undergoing gum
Check the credentials of the periodontist
or general dentist performing the procedure to ensure that he or
she is properly trained and skilled in oral surgery and the use
dental lasers, and has considerable
experience and practice in performing gingival sculpting.
Gingival Sculpting Costs
Dental insurance companies may or may not
cover a gingivectomy or gingivoplasty. Some do not cover gum
sculpting, which is considered a cosmetic procedure, however a
pre-determination of benefits will be submitted to your
insurance, and upon receipt of the EOB, we will review the
specific costs and financing options.
Do not dismiss
the oral health costs, either. Apart from its purely esthetic
aspects, gingival sculpting also has health benefits. For
instance, removing excess gum tissue can reduce deep gum
pockets, which can harbor harmful bacteria that can contribute
to infection and gum disease in the form of gingivitis or
periodontitis. These forms of gum disease have been further
linked to heart disease, diabetes and respiratory problems.
sculpting also can positively impact your mental health,
boosting your self-image and social confidence by improving your
appearance. Additionally, the use of laser surgery to perform
gingival sculpting involves less risk of infection, promotes
faster healing and offers greater surgical precision to protect
surrounding tissue from damage. All of these factors should be
considered when determining if gingival sculpting makes sense
Authored By: Nayda Rondon
Reviewed By: W. Peter Nordland, DMD