There are a variety of reasons that gums can be either too large or too small for the teeth. It could be due to genetics, age, oral health conditions or diseases as well as other health problems or medications.
Gums that have receded result in teeth that appear longer or bigger and often also make a patient look older. However, receding gums are not just esthetically displeasing but can also result in the root becoming exposed which can lead to a whole range of additional oral health problems such as tooth sensitivity and can result in tooth decay as well as tooth loss.
Gums that are too large make teeth look much smaller than they actually are. This condition also has negative health consequences and can lead to the build-up of additional plaque and bacteria in the mouth resulting in tooth decay, tooth loss and gum disease.
Although age plays a major role in receding gums, both these conditions are most commonly the result of gum disease (also called gingivitis or periodontal disease). While treatment for receding or too large gums may be recommended for health reasons, surgery is most often performed for esthetic reasons.
This type of surgery is called gum contouring or shaping. In the case of gums that appear too large, the gums are trimmed down to a size that would uncover a greater surface area of the tooth for a brighter, whiter smile. For receding gums, tissue may be added to areas of recession, covering the exposed base and root of the tooth.
In some cases, where the gum line appears uneven due to either recession or excess gum tissue, both the removal and addition of gum tissue may be necessary. Gum contouring and shaping is most commonly performed by a periodontal surgeon who specializes in the diagnosis, treatment and other types of procedures involving the gums and related oral health conditions. Contouring can be performed using a scalpel or laser technology.
As the procedure is normally performed purely for esthetic reasons, it is an elective surgery that a patient can choose to have if they feel that the appearance of their gums and teeth may be having a negative impact. However, gum contouring may be offered along with root scaling and planing, debriding or other procedures intended to treat periodontal disease.
Like any type of surgical procedure, there are certain risks involved with gum contouring and it is recommended to discuss these with your periodontist before opting for the surgery.