What is Periodontal Plastic Surgery?

Periodontal plastic surgery procedures are performed to prevent or correct anatomical, developmental, traumatic, or plaque disease‐induced defects of the gingiva, alveolar mucosa, and bone.

Your gingiva (gum tissues) are an important part of a healthy and beautiful smile. Not only do your soft tissues help to secure your teeth in the proper position, they’re a frame that accentuates the color and shape of each tooth.

When you have a “gummy” smile and too much tissue — or are suffering from gum recession and loss of gingival attachment — your gums could be creating an aesthetic or oral health problem that needs to be addressed. By correcting your soft tissues through “periodontal plastic surgery,” Dr. Nazir can help you establish a healthy balance that promotes a beautiful and stable smile.

“Why do My Gum Levels Matter?”

Depending on whether you have too much or too little gum tissue, your smile may be affected by one of a few different situations. Here are some of the most common:

If gums recede or shrink away from the tooth, it leaves a larger surface area exposed to the outer elements. When the roots are not protected by gingiva, they’re far more susceptible to developing cavities or experiencing sensitivity. But more importantly, recession means that there is loss of attachment around the tooth that can predispose it to becoming mobile or eventually falling out. Lost soft tissues mean lost bone; the only way to prevent additional loss of bone support is to stabilize the gum tissues so that they remain attached high enough on the tooth.

Too much gingiva creates a “gummy” smile that causes excessive soft tissues to cover healthy tooth surfaces. This can cause the teeth to look shorter than they really are, or uneven compared to adjacent teeth. Although this particular situation is not typically one that contributes to poor oral health, it does pose a significant aesthetic challenge. By recontouring the margins of the gums and raising the gumlines, our Orange County cosmetic dentist can reveal a fuller and brighter smile that you’ll feel confident about showing off.

Tooth sensitivity can become extremely uncomfortable when the root surfaces are exposed. Because this surface of the tooth is more porous than enamel, there are hundreds of microscopic nerve endings that can sense changes in temperature. Using products such as whitening toothpastes may also cause significant discomfort or painful throbbing. Covering the area with healthy gum tissue is a natural and effective way to prevent sensitivity related toothaches.

Types of Gum Surgeries

There are multiple forms of gingival plastic surgery that we offer. Each one is tailored to the specific anatomical and oral health needs of our patients. Some require very little downtime while others may require a week or so to fully recover.

Gingival Contouring — When the edges of gum tissues are too high on a tooth (covering the “crown” or white enamel surfaces) it can easily be adjusted in a way that reveals a fuller area and accentuates the natural appearance of the teeth or upcoming cosmetic treatments. Gum recontouring offers fast and effective results, with minimal recovery time. If you’ve always suffered from a gummy smile or have noticed extra gum tissues after taking certain types of medication, our Orange County dentist can help.

Soft Tissue Grafting — Sometimes the best way to cover an exposed tooth surface is to graft new tissue on top of it. This particular type of gingival plastic surgery protects and preserves the teeth from additional damage. Although there are several forms of grafting used in dentistry, the most common include taking an area of soft tissue from elsewhere in the mouth, stretching nearby tissues so that they re-cover the tooth, or using donor tissue. Our Orange County dentist will talk about the benefits of each as they relate to your specific situation, so that you know exactly what to expect.

Ridge Augmentation — Our body naturally resorbs bone and soft tissues in areas where a tooth falls out or is extracted. This creates a sunken-in appearance in that specific area of your smile. If you’ve had a new bridge or denture made, the resorption can cause the new prosthesis to not fit properly or “look fake” because of the dark areas of shrinking tissues around it. By restoring lost bone, we can plump up the contour of the soft tissues and fill in the sunken area for a healthy and natural looking appearance.

Factors Contributing to “Gummy” Smiles

Whether you’ve had extra gingiva for most of your life or it’s something you’ve only noticed in the past few years, excessive tissues are typically related to factors such as:

  • Genetics
  • Misaligned teeth and jaws
  • Certain prescription medications

Causes of Gum Recession

At the opposite end of the “gummy smile” spectrum is gingival recession, where gum tissues creep down the roots of the teeth. Receding margins are usually due to:

  • Aggressive tooth brushing habits
  • Orthodontic therapy
  • Misaligned teeth
  • Bruxism (clenching and grinding)
  • Periodontal disease
  • Trauma
  • Tooth or bone loss

Caring for Your Graft After Surgery

To ensure that your new soft tissue graft heals and stabilizes, it’s best to be very delicate when cleaning the area for at least the first two weeks. In order to prevent the gums from receding again, always clean them with a soft or extra-soft bristled toothbrush. Only use enough pressure to cause gentle blanching, but nothing more.

Dr. Nazir will want to see you routinely to ensure that the area is healing and responding well. After your first one or two follow up visits, we’ll place you on a six-month preventative care schedule and monitor the health of your gums during your routine checkups and cleanings.

Gum Grafting and Recontouring Consultations

If you’ve experienced the embarrassment of a gummy smile or have exposed root surfaces that are contributing to problems like sensitivity and tooth decay, it’s time to schedule a gum consultation at Smile Magic. Dr. Ray Nazir has over 30 years of experience, offering you quality soft tissue therapy and treatment options backed by integrity and trust. We invite you to call today to find out how we can help you smile with confidence!

We offer complimentary dental consultations at each of our locations. Contact us today to schedule a no-pressure evaluation and visit with our experienced holistic dental team!

Office Hours

Monday 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM

Tuesday 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM

Wednesday 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM

Thursday 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM

Friday 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM

Saturday By Appointment Only


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