My dentist says that as part of his normal direct composite veneers technique, he usually does a little gum trimming. This concerns me for a number of reasons. First, I don’t really care what’s “normal,” I care about what’s best for me. Secondly, I’ve already got gum issues due to orthodontic work I had done when I was a teenager. I’m worried that this will damage my teeth or cause long-term gum problems. I’ve only been in to see this dentist twice for regular checkups, and I like the idea of doing the work. It should help close up some gaps that have reformed since I’ve been out of ortho and will fix a tiny cavity I have on one tooth up by the gums. However, I’m not totally sold on his direct composite veneers technique, and I’m not entirely certain he’s a straight shooter yet.
Before getting into whether gum trimming is a good idea or not, let’s break down exactly what it means and why dentists do it.
What’s Gum Trimming?
The procedure you’re referring to is usually called a gingivectomy, gum lift, or recontouring. Some dentists may also call it a crown lengthening, but there are really two forms of this; aesthetic and functional. To be clear, a functional crown lengthening involves changes to the bone, not just the soft tissue. If this is what he’s referencing with you, it’s a good idea to get a second opinion. If you have issues like short roots or loose teeth, a functional crown lengthening may not be a good idea. However, if you’re just talking about the soft tissue, there are some reasons why it’s a good idea.
Gum Lifts for Aesthetics
One of the first things good cosmetic dentists do when planning out a case is address the symmetry. Most people don’t have perfectly symmetrical gums, and if you’ve had some gum issues over the years, that can add to the imbalance. By removing even a couple of millimeters, doctors can create a perfectly symmetrical smile that makes your new veneers look truly flawless.
Gum Lifts for Health
Sometimes, when periodontal disease is present, or you’ve had something like decay irritating the gums, they can become loose or inflamed. The doctor may not be able to provide superior aesthetics if the gums are like this. In addition, removing diseased gum tissue can help restore your health. If you’re diligent about gum care after the work is done, your gums should heal up quickly and look and feel great.
Should Gingivectomies Be Part of Every Direct Composite Veneers Technique?
Not necessarily. They’re beneficial to most people because of the improved aesthetics and potential health benefits if the gums are diseased, but they don’t need to be part of every treatment. If the doctor says he normally does it or performs the procedure with most people, that’s a fair answer. It’s likely he was downplaying its importance, so that you knew it was standard and part of traditional treatments. If he can tell you the benefits of it, and why he thinks it’s right for you, you should be in good hands. However, if he doesn’t provide a satisfactory answer, don’t try to change his mind. You may not wind up with the results you hope for. Instead, get a second opinion. Best of luck!
This blog is sponsored by Uveneer, maker of a template that simplifies the direct composite veneers technique for dentists.