Cosmetic Dentistry Is Not Just About Teeth!
Cosmetic Dentistry for Gums
When we say cosmetic dentistry, we know that most people envision porcelain veneers or teeth whitening. Usually, it is all about the teeth! This week’s blog will focus on another very important aspect of cosmetic dentistry: the gums.
It is possible to have beautiful, straight, white teeth in a smile that is not altogether beautiful because the gums are not in the correct position or not healthy.
What Makes Gums Beautiful?
Beautiful gum tissue is light pink in color with scalloped contours around the teeth. It should cover all of the roots of the teeth and come to a point in between each tooth. The gums should be symmetrical, covering the same amount of tooth on each “matching” tooth. You should show the same amount of gum tissue on both sides when you smile.
What Makes Gums Not-So-Beautiful?
Unhealthy Gums – Gingivitis means inflammation of the gums. Inflamed gums are bright red, bleed easily, have a swollen appearance, and can be tender to brushing and flossing. The look of gingivitis is unattractive.
Uneven or Asymmetrical Gums – There are many factors determining the position of gum tissue. One of the common problems we see with the position of gums comes after a patient has straightened their teeth with orthodontics. When teeth are very crooked, the level of gum attachment is usually not even across the teeth. Once the teeth have been properly aligned, the gums typically maintain their uneven position. This can make the teeth look like they are not straight even when they are perfectly aligned. One tooth may look shorter than its neighbor, or a tooth might appear forward relative to the position of its neighbor.
A Gummy Smile – A beautiful smile should show mostly teeth, with only a little bit of gum tissue. A gummy smile is one in which you see gum tissue between the upper lip and teeth all the way across. This causes the teeth to appear short. It also makes the upper lip look small. This is the type of smile most people picture when they hear the words “horse teeth”.
Receding Gums – When gums recede, that means they are shrinking or pulling away from the visible part of the tooth. This recession causes the exposure of tooth roots. Roots are not pretty. Because roots do not have an enamel covering, they are darker in color, usually very yellow, and have a rougher texture, allowing them to accumulate stain more than enamel.
Black Triangles – Black triangles appear between the teeth when the gum tissue does not come to a point where two teeth meet. This can result from gum recession. It can also be a result of orthodontic movement. When teeth are very crowded, there is no room for the gum tissue to have the pointed scallops (papilla) between the teeth. Once they are straightened, there is now room for those pointed scallops, but the gum tissue does not automatically grow into those area. Black triangles can be a food trap, leading to embarrassing broccoli incidents or annoying strawberry seeds.
How Can Designer Smiles Make Gums More Beautiful?
Dr. Ann and Dr. Lauren have each sought out hours upon hours of continuing education and training in advanced gum therapies. Designer Smiles has the latest laser technology to treat a variety of gum problems in many different ways.
Unhealthy Gums – There are many different ways to improve unhealthy gums. The most important one involves YOU! Dr. Ann and Dr. Lauren will work with their fabulous dental hygienists to create an action plan to take you from gingivitis to beautiful pink gums. Your dental hygienist will remove all of the bacteria buildup from your teeth so that your gums have a chance to heal. You will also have some homework to do to keep them healthy and beautiful. With good care from your dental hygienists on a consistent basis and good care at home, your gums will stay healthy and beautiful! If you should need specialized treatment to improve the health of your gums, Dr. Ann and Dr. Lauren may recommend state-of-the-art laser periodontal treatment (LPT). More comfortable than traditional methods, LPT effectively eradicates disease-causing bacteria under the gum line without harming healthy tissue.
Uneven or Asymmetrical Gums – One of the simplest ways we can improve a smile is by recontouring the gums. If the gum comes lower on one front tooth than the other, that unevenness may make the teeth look crooked or uneven. Dr. Ann and Dr. Lauren use the DEKA UltraSpeed CO2 laser to remove small amounts of gum tissue, creating an even, symmetrical appearance.
A Gummy Smile – In most gummy smile cases, the gums are actually hiding beautiful teeth! By performing procedures like gingivectomy and crown lengthening, Dr. Ann and Dr. Lauren can remove the extra gum tissue and expose the underlying teeth. This takes a smile from “horsey” to “Hollywood”!
Receding Gums – Gum recession is a tough one. By far, the best step we can ever take is prevention. If your dentist or hygienist recognize early signs of recession and recommend anything, take their advice. Whether it is wearing a nightguard or using an electric toothbrush, the cost and time and effort involved in preventing further recession are worth every bit. Once gums have already receded, they are more difficult to treat. Dr. Ann recently completed a training on gum grafting to rebuild areas where the gums have receded. By covering the roots and bringing the gums back to their appropriate position, she is creating a more beautiful smile.
Black Triangles – Black triangles are another tough one. Treating them involves surgically moving gum tissue back to its position between the teeth. A temporary option is the use of fillers (just like those used to fill in wrinkles in the skin) to fill gum tissue into the area between the teeth. There are many factors that contribute to the success of failure of these treatments, and your dentist will give you all of the specifics. One thing YOU can do to protect areas prone to black triangles is floss, floss, floss! Food impaction or plaque buildup is more likely in black triangles. When the food or bacteria is present in a black triangle, it “trains” that gum tissue to stay out of the way. It becomes a vicious cycle: There is a black triangle that allows food to get caught. Food caught between the teeth presses on the gum tissue and contributes to a black triangle. And so on . . . Keep any black triangles as clean as possible to prevent enlargement of the triangle.
Do You Have Cosmetic Concerns with Your Gums?
Call 281-410-2141 today to schedule a cosmetic consultation with Dr. Ann and Dr. Lauren. They will assess your current situation and describe all of the options available to improve your smile!