Americans Are Gaining Smilage From Their Tax Refunds

April 8, 2004
One out of four periodontists perform plastic surgery procdures during tax time. 

Americans are spending their tax dollars on periodontal plastic surgery, according to an online poll of consumers conducted recently on the American Academy of Periodontology's (AAP) Web site.

"This patient survey confirms what periodontists see in their practices," said Michael P. Rethman, D.D.S., M.S., and president of the AAP. "One out of 4 periodontists polled said they perform most periodontal plastic surgery procedures during 'tax time' - the months of April through June."

Cosmetic surgery has become so popular in the United States that it is the hottest topic for reality television. Periodontal plastic surgery has also felt this trend as it has experienced a significant shift toward cosmetic-related surgery to help improve the smile. 

"I elected to have periodontal plastic surgery, because I hated my gummy smile," explained Denise Riddle. "I'm thrilled with the results, and every day someone compliments me on my smile." 

Excessive gum tissue can create a "gummy" smile, but the periodontist can perform a crown lengthening procedure to remove the excess gum tissue and expose an ideal smile. Conversely, a person's teeth may appear too long if their gums have receded or shrunk. This can often be corrected with soft tissue graft procedures.

If patients have missing or damaged teeth, a dental implant is an artificial tooth root placed into the jaw to hold a replacement tooth or bridge. Implants also prevent bone loss that often accompanies dentures, and look and feel like the original tooth. 

"The results are rewarding for the periodontist, restorative dentist and the patient," said Jonathan Cole, D.M.D., private practitioner in DuBois, Pa. "Prior to surgery patients tell me they hate smiling because they don't want people to see their teeth. After surgery, they smile with ease and confidence. Patients have even told me they can't believe this change makes them look so much younger and instills much more confidence in their personality."

"The periodontist plays an integral part in the appearance and health of the smile," said Kevin Moore, D.M.D., restorative dentist in Clarion, Pa. "The patient cannot achieve a winning smile without the periodontist and dentist working together to reshape the gumline or remove the gum infection."

"Periodontal plastic surgery improves the smile, and is functional as well," said Rethman. "A soft tissue graft can reduce further recession and bone loss, and in some cases reduce tooth sensitivity. Crown lengthening uncovers the tooth or teeth and improves its function since the patient can once again feel the tooth."

The AAP online survey found that almost a third of those surveyed will use their

tax refunds for periodontal plastic surgery. To obtain a copy of the survey, please log onto the AAP Web site at To view before and after photos of periodontal procedures log onto

Visit the AAP Web site at to obtain a referral to a periodontist and the free brochures Dental Implants and Periodontal Surgery: What Can I Expect? or call 800-FLOSS-EM.

The American Academy of Periodontology is a 7,900-member association of dental professionals specializing in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease affecting the gums and supporting structures of the teeth and in the placement and maintenance of dental implants. Periodontics is one of nine dental specialties recognized by the American Dental Association.