About one our of four people say their smile�s biggest flaw is either that it is too gummy or their teeth appear too long, according to a poll conducted recently on the America Academy of Periodontology�s (AAP) consumer web site. Yet, only 26 percent of the 307 respondents said that they know about periodontal procedures that can reshape the gum line to correct these complaints.
These procedures remain a beauty secret, even while 67 percent of periodontists report that they are doing more cosmetic periodontal procedures than they were five years ago.
"Cosmetic periodontal procedures can dramatically improve a smile�s appearance, often making a bigger change than more well-known smile enhancements such as tooth whitening," said Michael McGuire, DDS, president of the AAP.
For gummy smiles, crown lengthening can re-contour excess gum and bone to expose more of the natural tooth. Conversely, when teeth appear too long, soft tissue grafts cover exposed roots with gum tissue from another source. Most of the time, periodontists perform crown lengthening and soft tissue grafts for functional rather than aesthetic reasons. Crown lengthening is often done to prepare a tooth that is to be fitted with a crown, and soft tissue grafts protect exposed roots from decay and can reduce further gum recession and bone loss.
When these procedures have major aesthetic benefits, however, periodontists agree it is rewarding for them and can be life changing for their patients.
"A young woman visited my office for an evaluation of her gummy smile," tells David Lamberts, DDS, a periodontist in Grand Rapids, Mich. "She would not smile very wide, even though she had beautiful teeth. We did crown lengthening on her six upper front teeth. Now she confidently displays a gorgeous wide smile."
A free brochure entitled Something to Smile About or a referral to a periodontist is available by calling 1-800-FLOSS-EM, or visit the AAP�s web site at www.perio.org.
EDITOR�S NOTE: Full results of the consumer survey, and before and after photos depicting the cosmetic crown lengthening case done by David Lamberts, DDS, are available in the "For the Media" section of the Academy�s web sit at www.perio.org.