When we think of cosmetic surgery, we tend to focus on the cheeks, eyes, and nose. But there are some appearance enhancements that a cosmetic surgeon can't make – those having to do with your teeth. As more people look to improve their appearance through surgery, cosmetic dentistry and periodontology are experiencing a rise in popularity. In fact, a poll conducted by the American Academy of Periodontology found that smile enhancement procedures outnumbered eyelid surgeries five to one.
The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry cites a recent study in which participants were shown photos of people before and after smile-enhancing treatment. The people with improved smiles were rated not just as more attractive, but also more popular, sensitive, successful, and friendly.
If you're interested in improving your smile, we can help in a variety of areas. Following are some of the most common corrections we perform for our patients.
Gummy or Crooked Smile
If you have too much gum showing when you smile, causing your teeth to look short, we call this a gummy smile. If your gum line is uneven, causing some teeth to look shorter than others, we call this a crooked smile. Both situations are easily remedied with a procedure referred to as a gingivectomy or crown lengthening. During this procedure, we remove excess gum tissue and reshape the contour of your gums and/or bone to expose more of the natural tooth and provide a natural-looking gum line. This can be done to one tooth, to even your gum line, or several teeth to expose a natural, broad smile.
Gum recession can be caused by gum disease, vigorous brushing, grinding or clenching, or simply age and genetics. Regardless of the cause, as gums recede they expose the roots of the tooth, creating the appearance of longer teeth. Exposed roots also increase vulnerability to root decay, bone loss, and sensitivity to hot and cold liquids and foods. The solution to this situation is a soft-tissue graft, also known as a gum graft. During this procedure, tissue from the top of your mouth or another source is transplanted to the gum area, covering the roots and restoring the gum line to its original, healthy location. A soft-tissue graft protects your roots from decay and helps prevent additional gum recession.
When a tooth falls out or is removed, an indentation can appear in the gums and jawbone just above the spot where the tooth used to be. This occurs because of the bone loss the tooth may have experienced with periodontal disease or because the jawbone slowly atrophies or disappears in response to the empty space. In combination with replacing your missing tooth, we can provide ridge augmentation, a procedure in which we smooth out the indentation to recreate the original curvature of your gums and jaw. If a bridge is going to be used to replace the tooth, the indentation may be corrected by placing tissue taken from the roof of the mouth under the gum tissue in the area of the indentation to "plump" up the area. If an implant is to be done, bone grafting may be needed. Dr. Crum will refer you to an oral surgeon for the bone grafting procedure to restore the missing bone, as well as the later placement of implants.