What is a Gum Lift?

October 5, 2022
Dr. Joe Xanthopoulos

Your smile is with you for life, so it’s important that you feel good about how it looks and feels. There are many dental conditions that can cause self-esteem issues, including dental decay, missing teeth, and a gummy smile.

Research has proven that a gummy smile, also known as excessive gingival display, interferes with an individual’s self-confidence and psychological state. In many cases, people with gummy smiles cope by controlling or hiding their smiles.

Fortunately, there is a treatment that can reshape the gums to make your gummy smile a thing of the past. This treatment is called a gum lift. So, what is a gum lift? In this guide, we explain everything you need to know about the procedure.

What is a Gummy Smile?

A gummy smile is characterised by teeth that appear shortened and square due to excess gum lining.

What is a Gum Lift?

A gum lift, also known as crown lengthening or gum contouring, is a form of cosmetic gum surgery that restores your gumline.

It is a minimally invasive procedure that removes excess gum tissue and reshapes your gum, using state-of-the-art laser technology.

A gum lift is typically utilised to reduce the look of gummy smiles and is often used in conjunction with porcelain veneers.  The procedure is designed to expose the hidden, healthy tooth underneath the excess gum, converting short square teeth into longer rectangle teeth.

Gum lifts are rarely medically required and after used more for aesthetic purposes. Your dentist will need to assess whether or not you’re eligible for the procedure.

After the treatment, less gum will be displayed when you smile, and the length-to-width ratio of your teeth will be more visually appealing.

Gum Lift Surgery: The Procedure

We know dental treatments can be a source of anxiety for many people, so let’s take a step-by-step look at what the gum lift procedure entails.

Knowing exactly what to expect can help to inform your decision and make you feel at ease when heading in for your treatment.

Step 1: Preparation

Your dentist will first use a pen to mark where your new gumline will sit.

They will then apply a local anaesthetic to the gum to numb the area. This will stop you from feeling any pain or discomfort during the procedure.

The type of sedation you receive will vary depending on a variety of factors, such as your dental anxiety levels, but most people remain awake during the procedure.

Step 2: The Treatment

The procedure involves using a laser light on areas where there is excess gum tissue. The laser is used to reshape the gums and readjust the gum lining.

This will take approximately 20 to 30 minutes.

Step 3: Sealing and Recovery

Your gum tissue will be immediately recovered during the procedure; the laser is used to seal the wound and blood vessels at the same time as it removes the excess tissue.

This means no bleeding, and you won’t need stitches!

Is a Gum Lift Painful?

While the administration of the local anaesthetic into your gum can be painful, the gum lift procedure itself is painless.

Only a laser is used during the treatment, so you won’t require any cuts or incisions.

You may experience some tenderness during recovery, but your dentist will be able to provide you with some tips for minimising this discomfort.

The amount of discomfort you experience post-procedure will depend on how much gum lining was reshaped or removed, but it will typically dissipate within a few days.

How Long Does a Gum Lift Take to Heal?

It can take up to 10 days for your gums to heal completely. You will receive specific instructions on what to do during the recovery period.

For the rest of the day following your surgery, you will be advised to rest and limit your activity.

In most cases, you will be able to eat and drink within 24 hours, but you’ll need to stick to soft, cold foods like eggs, pasta, soft vegetables, ice cream, yoghurt, and soft cheeses for the first few days after the treatment.

Avoid spicy, crunchy, and acidic food and drink, as well as foods with seeds, until your gums have healed.

You can ease your discomfort by applying a cold pack to your mouth and taking over-the-counter pain relief. It is advisable to avoid aspirin, as this can cause bleeding. Opt for ibuprofen instead.

Be sure to closely follow your dentist’s instructions regarding tooth brushing and flossing to prevent irritation.

What are the Risks of a Gum Lift?

There are very few risks associated with the gum lift procedure.

You may experience increased tooth sensitivity after the procedure. When the gum tissue is removed to reveal a larger area of the teeth, the susceptibility to tooth sensitivity increases.

Our teeth are covered in tiny pores called tubules, which contain the nerve endings within our teeth. When they are suddenly uncovered, they may become sensitive.

The good news is that this sensitivity typically dissipates with time, and can be managed with sensitivity products in the meantime.

If you visit an inexperienced practitioner, you are at risk of experiencing over-lifted gums. This can cause the tooth roots to come exposed, meaning the tooth enamel is no longer covering the tooth.

The next layer of the tooth, the dentin, is therefore exposed. This surface is much more sensitive than the enamel and is at greater risk of decay, which is why it’s important to keep those tooth roots covered.

There is also a minor risk of tissue relapse, which means you would require another treatment to ensure the gum stays lifted.

If you experience swollen or bleeding gums, or any other unusual symptoms, for more than 24 hours after your treatment, contact your dentist for an emergency appointment. You may be experiencing an infection or complication, so it’s important to have these symptoms seen to.

How Much is a Gum Lift?

In most cases, a gum lift is an elective procedure, meaning it is not medically necessary. In such instances, dental insurance won’t usually cover the cost, and you’ll need to pay out of pocket.

However, if your dentist has recommended a gum lift for medical reasons, your dental insurance may cover some of the cost.

The cost will vary depending on the amount of tissue you have removed or restored. Costs can range from $1,500 to $3,000, falling at the higher end of the scale for eight to ten teeth on the upper or lower arch.

Gum Lift Before and After

Wondering what your gum lift will look like?

Let’s take a look at some before and after images to give you an idea of what to expect.

Is a Gum Lift Treatment Right For You?

A gum lift is a minimally invasive procedure that can help to restore your gumline and reduce the look of a gummy smile.

The treatment can help you move through life with confidence and pride in your smile.

If you’re not sure whether this treatment is right for you, or if you’d like more information about gum lifts, you can get in touch with us at Kew Dentistry.

We’ll chat through your concerns and needs to ensure you receive the right treatment.