What is a Gum Lift?

You think often about your teeth because you brush them at least twice a day (hopefully :)), but how much attention do you pay to your gums? Probably not as much. Your teeth are white, bright, and strong and you want to keep them that way because a nice smile gives you self-confidence and boosts your self-esteem. But if you have a gummy smile, your teeth may appear too short, and let’s face it, looking at pink gingival tissue is not as esthetically pleasing as seeing pretty white teeth. If you’re noticing too much pink, maybe you need a gum lift.

We’ve all heard of a face lift, and a tummy tuck, but have you ever heard of a gum lift? Just like these common cosmetic surgeries, a gum lift is a surgical procedure performed by cosmetic dentists. It removes excess tissue and reshapes the gums for a more attractive, aesthetically pleasing smile. Your Chicago, Illinois dentist, Dr. Fondriest, is experienced in cosmetic and restorative dentistry, and can help you determine whether or not a gum lift is right for you.

What is a gum lift?Schedule your consultation today to gain a more confident smile through cosmetic dentistry! Our practice serves patients from the North Short and Northwest suburbs, but often we receive patients from all over the United States. If you are unhappy with your gummy smile or the shape and symmetry of your gum line, Dr. Fondriest can help. Contact our practice now at 847-234-0517 to schedule your cosmetic consultation.

What is a Gummy Smile?

A gummy smile is a condition in which a person’s teeth appear small, due to an uncommon amount of gingival tissue, or gums. In other words, the gums cover more of the top third of the tooth than is aesthetically pleasing. When a smile does not display the least amount of gum tissue people can feel they have an unattractive, gummy smile. Those who present with a gummy smile are often embarrassed to show their teeth. They can become self-conscious and lack self-esteem desiring and even, symmetrical gum line that meets aesthetically with the upper lip.

In the past, gum lifts, or gingivectomies, were a painful procedure. The gums were cut with a scalpel, stitches placed, and recovery lasted weeks. Advances in dental technology makes today’s gingivectomies a simple, commonly performed procedure.

What Causes a Gummy Smile?

Your smile line–the teeth that show when you smile–relies on several factors, including the size and shape of your teeth, your facial muscles, your gum tissue, and the shape and size of your lips. Those same factors can cause a gummy smile. Gummy smiles occur because of:

  • Abnormal tooth eruption: The teeth are normal length, but because of their abnormal eruption they appear shorter.
  • Altered active eruption: The teeth erupt correctly, but are covered with too much bone and gum tissue.
  • Altered passive eruption: The teeth and bone are within normal parameters, but the teeth are covered with excessive gum tissue.
  • Upper jaw protrusion: During development of the jaw, the bone protrudes into the gum tissue, creating a gummy smile.
  • Hyperactive upper lip: The upper lip is higher than normal revealing too much gum.
  • Hypermobile upper lip: When smiling, the facial muscles pull the top lip up too high, revealing too much gum.
  • Short upper lip: The upper lip is too short, revealing too much gum.
  • Vertical maxillary access: The vertical dimension of the upper jaw is longer than it should be.
  • Super-eruption of the top front teeth: When the lower jaw is smaller than the upper jaw, the top teeth drift lower, pulling the gum tissue with them.
  • Bruxism: When people grind their teeth, or brux, they wear away tooth structure, shortening their teeth. As a result, the upper teeth super-erupt, meaning they move down to come into contact with the lower teeth, bringing the gum tissue with them.

Many dentists practice cosmetic dentistry, but it is important that a gum lift is performed by an experienced and skilled practitioner. In Dr. Fondriest’s practice the procedure is performed by a periodontist and supervised by Dr. Fondriest himself.

Repositioning your Gumline

A gum lift repositions the gumline of your upper teeth by raising the gum up toward your top lip. This helps show more tooth structure and can improve your smile. It has been estimated that twice as many women (14%) have gummy smiles compared with men (7%). When it comes to an esthetically pleasing smile there is a proportion of tooth based on a width to length ratio, a ratio of gums to teeth, and a ratio of teeth to lips. By removing excessive gum tissue the correct proportion of gum to tooth can be revealed, and the proper proportion of length to width tooth ratio can be met.

What is a Gingivectomy?

Dr. Fondriest’s periodontist partners perform gingivectomies in their own offices.  Gingivectomies are beneficial in several ways:

  • It removes gum tissue with precision lines.
  • It sterilizes the area as it removes tissue.
  • It stimulates the regeneration of blood vessels, and damaged nerves, to promote healing.
  • It seals tissue, so no sutures are necessary.
  • Because it seals tissue, bleeding is minimal and recovery is prompt.

The specialist will raise and even the gums exposing more tooth surface. The procedure is quick and comfortable, and recovery takes only a few days. Within one day, you will be able to eat and drink. You will probably be prescribed an over-the-counter pain relief medication to take for two days following the procedure. During recovery, follow Dr. Fondriest’s instructions to keep your oral cavity clean and prevent infection.

How Much Does a Gum Lift Cost?

The cost of this cosmetic procedure varies, because each patient’s goals and gum lines are different. Some patients may require a gum lift on only one to two teeth, while other patients may require a gum lift for their entire smile. The typical cost range for treatment is about $1000 to $4,000 dollars. Of course, if additional cosmetic treatments are also performed, such as professional whitening or porcelain veneers, the cost of the gum lift will only be one part of your overall cosmetic treatment costs.

Since most gum lifts are performed as part of a cosmetic procedure, rather than a restorative one, most dental insurance plans will not cover the procedure. However, most patients find that the long-term benefits of a more symmetrical, aesthetic smile are worth the cost of a gum lift. A consultation with Dr. Fondriest can help you determine an estimate of costs for your specific smile.

About Lake Forest Dental Arts

Gum lifts are just one part of our cosmetic dental services. Dr. James Fondriest offers a full array of cosmetic dentistry treatments, from cosmetic bonding to porcelain veneers and professional teeth whitening. Our team is pleased to welcome patients desiring a beautiful smile from the Chicago metropolitan area and from across the United States. Schedule your next consultation or appointment by calling (847) 234-0517. We look forward to meeting you soon!


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