While the majority of individuals who do not like the appearance of their smile are unhappy with the alignment of their teeth, gum tissue can also create a problem for many, as they feel they either have too much or not enough on show.
Although members of the public may feel they are forced to grin and bear their unattractive smile, the emergence of cosmetic dentistry has made it even easier to find an aesthetic solution to some issues that may affect a person’s quality of life.
Both of these procedures are carried out by a periodontist who specialises in treating gums and other supporting structures around the teeth, but there is a key difference between the two.
A gingivectomy is the surgical removal of gum tissues – which is also known as gingiva – while a gingivoplasty is the reshaping of the area around the pearly whites, which is often carried out on individuals who feel they have an excessive gum-to-tooth ratio.
Originally developed to treat periodontal disease, this course of action is used more commonly as a cosmetic procedure.
Patients who seek this treatment usually do so for one of two reasons:
The act of reshaping the area through gingivoplasty can help to make gums appear more natural and can be used to correct asymmetrical gums, those that are badly formed, when they have been affected by gum disease or malformed due to genetic problems, as well as treating individuals who have sustained dental trauma.
Although gingivoplasty is usually carried out on its own, it can also be performed after a gingivectomy or a gum graft.
Before either treatment is carried out, a dental professional will discuss the process with each patient, as well as enquire about their oral hygiene routine. Following this, members of the public can receive tips on how to appropriately prepare for the surgery.
Prior to each course of action, people usually receive a thorough mouth cleaning, which could involve root planning in order to remove tartar or calculus from existing pockets.
Both procedures are usually administered using a scalpel, but in some cases electrosurgery units, diamond dental burs and soft tissue diode lasers are utilised. Some periodontists will use specialised instruments such as angled blades that make it easier for the dentist to work around the pearly whites.
A local anaesthetic injection is usually given to make the tissue go numb for the duration of the surgical process. In the majority of cases, a gingivectomy will take between a few minutes and one hour, whereas gingivoplasties are carried out in a few minutes only.
However, the duration of each course of action depends on the size of the area being treated.
Following the operation, a periodontal dressing will be placed on the gum tissue and is left in place for between one and two weeks. During this period, individuals are advised to consume a soft diet and avoid spicy foods, while also abstaining crunchy items. Some dentists prescribe some pain medications and chlorhexidine mouth rinse.
It is vital for those that have undergone either procedure to keep their mouth clean, but they should avoid brushing their teeth in the surgical area while the dressing is still in place.
Patients will have this protective material in place for up to a fortnight and the gums usually return to their natural appearance after a month, while the overall healing process usually takes around three months.
There are no major risks involved in undergoing gingivectomy or gingivoplasty and infections are uncommon. While it is possible for the affected area to bleed for some time after, this is extremely rare and those who do have this problem will find it subsides in time.
Patients are urged to contact their periodontist as soon as possible if they experience one or more of the following problems: