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How Much Does Gum Contouring Cost

by Lyndon Langley
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How Much Does Gum Contouring Cost

How Much Does Gum Contouring Cost

When actress Christina Hendricks was cast in Mad Men, she had a difficult time finding clothes that fit because her face shape changed so much over the course of the show. A similar thing happens when people get their teeth worked on — but not everyone has millions of dollars lying around just waiting to be spent on cosmetic dentistry procedures. For those who are able to afford them and want to improve the appearance of their smile, there’s one popular procedure that can help make your pearly whites pop even more: gum contouring.

Gum contouring is an increasingly common way to reshape your mouth after receiving braces or other orthodontic treatments. It involves removing excess gingiva (gums) to create a flatter surface beneath the upper set of teeth. This helps reduce the amount of visible bone structure above the top row of teeth, making them appear slightly smaller and less crowded. The bottom rows of teeth also look longer and straighter by eliminating the “wattage” effect caused by the extra tissue surrounding each tooth.

The best candidates for this procedure include patients who had extensive orthodontic work done, such as wearing retainers and head gear for many years. Another good candidate would be someone who received traditional metal braces before age 16, since these devices cause severe damage to the gums. Those who have experienced trauma to the mouth, including accidents involving broken jaws, should also benefit from this type of treatment [sources: DentalPlans; Hager].

In addition to improving the overall aesthetic appeal of the smile, gum contouring can also help treat conditions like periodontitis, which causes inflammation and infection of the tissues that surround the roots of our teeth. To learn more about how gum contouring works, read on.

Periodontal disease affects 35 percent of Americans [sources: Mayo Clinic; NIH], often leading to gum recession, where the gum line recedes below the level of the actual crown of the tooth. If left untreated, it can eventually lead to tooth loss. Gum contouring can help prevent this problem by creating a flat surface between the root of the tooth and the gum, reducing friction and irritation.

Gum Contouring Procedure

After consulting with your dentist to determine whether you’re a viable candidate for gum contouring, he or she will begin preparing your mouth for the procedure using local anesthesia. Your dentist will then clean out any plaque and tartar (a hard deposit formed from food particles trapped within the soft tissue of the mouth) and remove the existing gingival tissue down to a thin layer of connective tissue called mucosa. He or she might also numb areas around your mouth that could feel painful during the procedure. Afterward, he’ll trim away any remaining healthy gum tissue and prepare the area for grafting.

Next, the doctor will take care of business behind closed doors. Using either a surgical scalpel or a specialized laser, he’ll cut away unwanted tissue until only the required amount remains. Then, he’ll suture the incisions and place gauze underneath your lips and cheeks to protect them while healing. Finally, he’ll apply antibiotic ointment and send you home with instructions to avoid smoking or rinsing excessively. The whole process typically takes two hours or less.

While most patients return to normal activities soon after leaving the office, they must refrain from brushing their teeth or chewing gum right away in order to let new tissue grow into its proper position. In fact, the patient is instructed not to brush his or her teeth for several days, and usually no sooner than three weeks later. During this time, the body heals the damaged tissue with scar tissue instead of regrowing it with collagen fibers. Once the wound has healed completely, however, the patient will need to keep up the routine of brushing and flossing regularly.
Not sure what exactly makes you eligible? Read on to find out what criteria your dentist needs to consider before scheduling you for gum contouring.

Another option for treating gum recession is known as flap surgery, where a physician simply pulls back the gum and stitches together the exposed root of the tooth. While this method is minimally invasive and generally safe, it requires stitching through nerves and blood vessels under the skin, which carries increased risks. Also, it may leave the patient with sensitive, raw-looking gums following recovery.

Candidate Criteria for Gum Contouring

To qualify for gum contouring, your dentist will require X-rays showing how far the gum line has dropped below the gum crease (the line between the upper lip and lower cheek). He or she will also use a series of photographs showing how the gums used to look before the procedure.

Your dentist will decide on how much additional tissue to remove based upon measurements of your current bite relationship and how long you’ve worn braces. Since the goal of gum contouring is to flatten the surface of the gums, it’s important to remember that doing so may change the size of your teeth. You may notice that your jaw appears larger after the procedure, and your teeth will likely seem slightly smaller. However, the final result should actually give you a slight increase in the length of your teeth and a decrease in width.

You must also meet general health requirements for undergoing gum contouring, including being free of uncontrolled diabetes, HIV/AIDS or high cholesterol levels. Additionally, you must have enough money to pay for your procedure, as well as follow postoperative instructions carefully. Most importantly, you shouldn’t smoke or drink alcohol prior to the operation, and you should stop taking aspirin or any nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) two weeks before getting treated.
If you do qualify for gum contouring, you should consult a dentist certified by the American Board of Orthodontics. Certified professionals know how to perform gum contouring safely, effectively and efficiently, and can provide you with the results you desire without causing serious complications.

For more information about gum contouring and related topics, visit the next page.

Aging can wreak havoc on your teeth’s ability to hold onto fillings, as well as affect how much tooth enamel is lost. One reason is that older adults lose calcium from bones faster than younger folks, which weakens teeth and increases the risk of fracturing. But another major factor for elderly patients is the gradual wear of the teeth due to lack of attention. As we age, we lose moisture from saliva, which dries out the teeth and erodes enamel. Dry teeth also form rough spots, called calculus, along the surface of the teeth, which irritate the soft gum tissue. These problems can cause cavities to break through the protective coating of the tooth’s outermost part, the enamel, exposing the vulnerable pulp of the tooth to bacteria and decay.

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