An application for gum "sculpting."

This digital smile makeover illustrates how gum sculpting, on its own, may be the only remedy needed to correct an asymmetric smile.

What is gum "sculpting"?

"Sculpting" is a layman's term for a surgical procedure that's used to adjust the position of the gum line on teeth. This type of surgery is just minor and can be accomplished right in a dentist's office using just a local anesthetic (a dental "shot").

Case issues and concerns:

  • This person's smile reveals a distinctly irregular gum line, which makes the teeth marked numbers 2, 3, and 4 look too short.
  • One would normally expect the gum tissue on these teeth to be positioned more in line with that found on tooth #1.
  • The net result of this gum-line discrepancy is that this smile seems to slope off to this person's left.
  • Other than that, this picture gives the impression that this person's teeth and gums are healthy and in good shape.
  • A smile with an irregular gum line.
    A smile with an irregular gum line. A smile with an irregular gum line.
  • After gum sculpting has been performed.
    After gum sculpting has been performed. After gum sculpting has been performed.
 

Photo submitted by website visitor.

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Treatment solutions:

1) Use gum sculpting to even out this smile.

The only treatment that's really needed here is to reposition the gum tissue on the teeth marked numbers 2, 3, and 4, so a larger portion of them is revealed.

As mentioned above, this type of procedure is often referred to as "gum sculpting." It is a surgical procedure, although a relatively minor one. Many general dentists offer this service to their patients. If not, the patient would be referred to a periodontist (gum specialist).

How much repositioning is possible?

With cases like this one where no tooth restorations are planned, the treating dentist would want to limit their surgery so it only exposes the crown portion of each tooth (the part that has a dental enamel covering). And the size and shape of the tooth labeled #1 gives a hint as to how much enamel-covered tooth structure there is to expose on the neighboring teeth.

That's because teeth are usually bilaterally symmetrical, meaning that corresponding teeth on either side of the mouth are mirror images of the each other. Since the upper right lateral incisor (#1) seems full-sized, it can be anticipated that the upper left one (#4) is too, it's just covered over more so by gum tissue. The teeth in between (#'s 2 and 3, the central incisors) are typically even larger yet.

If we're wrong on this point, gum sculpting can and should still be performed. It's just that some type of restoration (like dental crowns or possibly veneers) would need to be placed afterward so to give the teeth a normal appearance.

2) Treating the bottom teeth.

Although the lower teeth have a poor alignment, it's primarily their irregular biting edges that are the most noticeable. Just trimming these edges a little, so they are all in line (like we've shown in our "after picture"), could create the illusion of better alignment. This work could probably be accomplished painlessly, in just a few moments, using a dental drill.

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Input from site visitors.

Helped my skin grin.

I've always had a big smile but it was mostly gums. My dentist refered me to a periodontist and had sculpting done. I don't look like Miss America but it helped a fair amount.

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