Gum Contouring

Is It Right For You?

by Dr. Macon Singletary // April - May - June 2020

Are you self-conscious about your smile? If so, you are not alone. Achieving a beautiful smile can not only change the way you look, it can also change the way you feel – it can improve your self-esteem, help you become more successful, and even potentially provide opportunities to you that you may otherwise not have had.

But sometimes having straight, symmetrical, healthy teeth is not enough. Aesthetic gum concerns can also affect one’s smile. There are generally two groups of people with aesthetic gum concerns … those who have “gummy” smiles (their gum tissue extends too far down), and those who experience gum recession (meaning they don’t have enough gum to cover their teeth).


Whether it is caused by genetics, periodontal disease, bone deterioration, or the use of certain blood pressure medications, a gummy smile can cause people to feel self-conscious about their appearance. They may feel that they show too much gum tissue or their gums are too prominent when they smile. They may feel their teeth appear too small. While having a gummy smile doesn’t affect one’s ability to chew or talk, it can still be reason for treatment.


Those who don’t have enough gum to cover their teeth have the opposite aesthetic situation – instead, their teeth appear longer than they should. You may have heard the expression “long in the tooth” … this term applies to those with gum recession. These people are often concerned not only with appearance, but also with potential mobility and loss of teeth.


Patients who experience one of these common issues aren’t out of luck. With advancements in dental technology, gum contouring is here to save the day. Simply put, gum contouring is a dental procedure that reshapes those uneven gums. Performed with a gentle laser, it is performed by a periodontist or cosmetic dentist in one sitting, and with little to now downtime afterward.

In most cases, the patient remains awake during the procedure, receiving local anesthesia to numb the area just prior. During the procedure, for those looking to eliminate their “gumminess,” the doctor will use the laser to remove excess gum tissue, resculpting the gumline to expose more of the tooth. If gums are receding, the doctor will add gum tissue from another part of your mouth, ultimately lengthening and reforming the gumline.

Gum contouring procedures usually take about one to two hours. Some tenderness and numbness following the treatment is normal, and the amount of discomfort experienced depends on how much of the gums have to be reshaped or removed. Although downtime following the procedure is very minimal, your doctor may recommend limiting activity for a day or two. And since your gums will likely be sensitive at first, it’s a good idea to stick to soft foods for a few days after, such as soup, applesauce, yogurt, and Jell-O.

Many celebrities have undergone gum contouring treatments to perfect their smiles, including Miley Cyrus, Catherine Zeta Jones, and Kate Beckinsale. But you don’t have to be rich or famous to

take advantage of laser gum reshaping. Anyone with anxiety, embarrassment, or unhappiness related to an imperfect smile may benefit from cosmetic dentistry.

Gum contouring can instantly transform a beautiful smile. So whether your issue is too much gum tissue or not enough, the confident smile you have been dreaming of is easily within reach.

Dr. Macon Singletary

DDS with North Raleigh Periodontics, located at 7805 Fiesta Way in Raleigh. Dr. Singletary is a diplomate with the American Board of Periodontology and has been improving smiles in the Raleigh area for over 25 years.