Have you ever been embarrassed by your smile because your teeth seem shorter than other people’s? This is a struggle many people face but aren’t sure what they can do about it. Fortunately, our team can provide the solution with a procedure known as a gingivectomy.
A gingivectomy is when gum tissue is removed using surgical methods. Procedures can last between 30 and 60 minutes depending on how much work is required, and more visits may be necessary. Scalpel and laser methods exist with laser gingivectomy being preferred by more and more patients. Recovery is relatively quick with follow-ups so your dentist can monitor your progress.
What Is a Gingivectomy?
A gingivectomy is the surgical removal of gum tissue, also known as gingiva. This versatile form of oral surgery can address cosmetic concerns such as a “gummy smile,” a problem our own dental hygienist Jordan understands all too well.
In one of our recent Mission Minutes videos on Facebook, she asks:
Have you ever been embarrassed to smile? Have you ever thought that you have a gummy smile like your lip comes up too far, and you just don’t have the confidence that you would like to have? Well, I can speak from personal experience that I felt that way my whole life and when I started working here, I found out that there are a lot of ways that we can help that.
Jordan takes the time to explain that, in many cases, this is the result of gum tissue that is covering up your natural enamel, the outer layer of your tooth. With a gingivectomy procedure, a dental professional like Dr. Mullins or Dr. Owen uses oral plastic surgery to lengthen the appearance of your teeth by removing excess gum tissue.
Gingivectomy isn’t just a cosmetic treatment option. It can also be used to treat gum disease in its early stages (gingivitis). A gingivectomy can be used to restore and protect your oral health. This way, the procedure can be used to treat disease or to lengthen teeth for the smile that you’ve always dreamed of.
Click here to learn more about gingivitis!
What Happens During a Gingivectomy Procedure
Whether you’re wanting to improve your smile or protect your teeth and gums from the effects of gum disease, a gingivectomy works the same way. The procedure can take between 30 and 60 minutes depending on the amount of gum tissue that needs to be removed.
Similarly, the number of office visits required will depend on how extensive the work is. For instance, a single or even several teeth may only require one office visit. On the other hand, major gum removal or reshaping can require multiple visits. This is especially true if your dentist prefers the healing process to progress before moving on to another area of the mouth.
Here’s what to expect during a routine gingivectomy procedure:
- A local anesthetic is injected into your gums to numb the area
- Gum tissue is removed using a laser or scalpel (soft tissue incision)
- A suction tool is used to remove any excess saliva that could obstruct the procedure
- Once the bulk of the tissue has been removed, a laser tool is often used to get rid of the remaining tissue
Kyleigh, one of our dental assistants, has helped with numerous gingivectomies. When asked what patients have to say after undergoing the procedure, she explains:
The day of, it’s really a non-event. Of course, people are going to go through the recovery process. Within this process, they will have to rest for a few and modify their diet for a few days. This isn’t anything anybody wants to do, but after achieving their result every patient has told me they would do it again and that they wish they knew about it sooner.
Scalpel vs Laser Gingivectomy
Gingivectomies using a scalpel have long been the norm for gum removal and reshaping. However, procedures utilizing lasers have become more common as the technology has become more accessible.
Lasers also have the benefit of:
- Being more precise
- Allowing faster healing
- Cauterization due to the heat
- Lower risk of infections
These benefits also come with a cost. Laser surgeries are more expensive than the scalpel method due to the cost of equipment as well as training. Your dental insurance plan may also not cover laser treatments, requiring you to pay for them out of pocket. In cases like these, gingivectomy with a scalpel may be more practical due to budget constraints.
Talk to our staff about payment options for laser surgery. We provide payment plans and other options that benefit your budget. While it may be more expensive, the benefits of laser treatment far outweigh the cost for many patients. Its precision, faster healing times, and lower risk of infections put it far ahead of traditional scalpel gingivectomy.
To learn more about our gingivectomy laser, click here!
Recovering From a Gingivectomy
Recovering from a gingivectomy is usually a quick process. It can be broken down into three phases:
- First few hours
- Next few days
- Long-term recovery
There isn’t a lot of pain in the first few hours thanks to the anesthesia. You may notice a sharp or persistent pain as the anesthesia wears off, but this can be treated with over-the-counter painkillers. Bleeding gums are common within the first few days and you will need to change the bandages or dressing until the bleeding stops or your gums are safe to expose again.
You may experience some jaw pain over the next few days. Your dentist will likely recommend sticking to soft foods so your gums aren’t damaged or irritated while they’re healing. It can also help to apply a cold compress to your cheeks to soothe any pain or irritation in your mouth. Saline and special rinses can be used to clean your mouth, but avoid antibacterial mouthwash.
It’s important to know for the long term that pain and soreness will go away after around a week. Your dentist will use follow-up visits to check the areas they worked on and make sure they are healing well. They will also let you know when it’s safe to resume eating a normal diet again. Oral hygiene will be especially important if you suffer from issues such as gum disease.
Are you ready to trade your gummy smile for the smile you’ve always dreamed of? Contact us today to schedule your appointment!
Gum tissue that is larger than normal can be removed surgically in a process known as a gingivectomy. These procedures are relatively short although they can require multiple visits to the dentist if a lot of work is required. Scalpel and laser methods are available with laser treatments becoming more common and preferred. Recovery times are relatively short with follow-up visits to your dentist to make sure everything is healing as it should.
My Family Dentistry is open Monday through Thursday. Give us a call at (865) 947-6453 or you can schedule an appointment online.