There are many reasons why the gums and jawbone may require corrective treatment, including periodontal disease, trauma and birth defects. Periodontal disease particularly, can greatly disfigure the natural appearance of the gums and teeth and give the smile an unaesthetic appearance.
New “cosmetic surgery” procedures are now available in periodontics, which effectively correct cosmetic problems and restore natural beauty to the smile.
Here are some of the most common gum and jawbone corrective treatments:
Common Gum Treatments
Crown lengthening (gum lift) – Crown lengthening is usually performed to correct a “gummy” smile, or to expose more of the tooth prior to a restorative therapy. In some cases, the teeth look short and stubby and partly covered by gum tissue due to genetics or gingivitis. Excess gum tissue can easily be removed to reshape the outline of the gums, expose the natural tooth length, and provide a fuller, more attractive smile. The same procedure is also an excellent way to create a more aesthetic gumline for dental crowns and other restorative procedures.
Gum grafts – Gum grafts are generally performed to correct a crooked smile or to restore symmetry to the gumline after recession has occurred Periodontal disease can cause the gums to recede making the smile look overly “toothy.” Gum grafts are often used to re-contour the gum line and give the teeth a more pleasing appearance.
Pocket reduction surgery – Periodontal disease can cause the smile to be marred with unattractive teeth, brown gums and ridge indentations. The aim of pocket reduction surgery is to clean the root surfaces of the teeth subgingivally (beneath the gum line). During this procedure, tartar, plaque and bacteria that are affecting the teeth will be removed. This procedure may be accomplished with conventional surgery as well as the use of a dental laser. Pocket reduction surgery is an effective way to restore health to the gums and bone.
Common Jawbone Treatments
Sinus augmentation – This procedure is usually performed prior to the placement of dental implants, to ensure that the prosthetic teeth are both functional and firmly affixed to the bone. The success of an implant hinges on the quantity and quality of the jawbone to which it will be attached. If the jawbone has receded or been injured, a sinus augmentation can slightly elevate the sinus floor to allow new bone to form. Generally, a small incision is made in the bone and the underlying space is packed with grafting material. The incision is sutured closed, and the implant will be placed when healing has occurred.
Ridge modification – Ridge modification procedures are used to treat deformities in the jawbone which have occurred due to periodontal disease, trauma or birth defects. Birth defects particularly can leave an unattractive indentation in the jaw which makes placing dental implants difficult. During the ridge modification procedure, the gum is gently pulled away from the bone to fully expose the defect. The defect is filled with bone graft material or a similar synthetic product and then sutured closed. When healing occurs, the cosmetic appearance of the jaw is much improved and implants can be successfully placed where necessary.
Bone grafts – There are a wide variety of reasons why a bone graft may be necessary. Bone grafting thickens the jawbone to allow for the successful placement of implant anchors. Bone grafts can also help elevate the sinus floor, fill craters or deformities in the jawbone itself. In most cases, a small opening is made through the gum and the bony defect is packed with the bone graft material. Sutures are placed and restorative treatments are performed when healing is complete.