Diagnosis & TreatmentsPeriodontics treatments involve the structures that surround and support your teeth, like your gums, alveolar bone, cementum and the periodontal ligament. One of the most common issues implicate inflammation and/or bleeding of the gums. Sometimes referred to as a “gummy smile,” excessive gums almost seem to droop too low over the teeth. Because mouths vary so much, there is no standard definition for what qualifies as “excessive,” although gums are generally considered excessive if they extend about four millimeters over the teeth — roughly an eighth of an inch. Uneven gums are just that: gums that are or appear uneven. This can be the result of excessive gums, or because of afflictions affecting certain parts of the mouth.
What Causes Excessive Gums?
- The gum tissue itself actually is excessive. This can be the result of irritated, inflamed or diseased gums or be genetic.
- The upper lip pulls slightly higher than normal. In other words, your smile is “normal” but your lip exposes too much of it.
- The teeth are misshapen. This can be from an injury or, again, simple genetics.
- The upper jaw is misaligned vertically in relation to the rest of the skull.
How Are Excessive Gums Treated?
Excessive gums can be treated with simple surgery or orthodontic procedures, depending on the actual cause of the problem. Options range from same-day treatments to more involved surgical sculpting of both gum tissue and bone. If the problem is tooth alignment or shape, patients might be treated with orthodontic procedures to straighten the teeth.
When a tooth is damaged or missing, dentists commonly use crowns and bridges to restore strength, beauty and function to the teeth and gums. Crowns and bridges are designed to mimic natural teeth and improve smiles by:
• Replacing missing teeth
• Filling gaps and spaces between teeth
• Repairing discolored, poorly shaped or cracked teeth.
When teeth are damaged but not lost, a dental crown can be placed to restore the tooth’s appearance and function. Crowns are tooth-shaped, synthetic caps designed to cover and strengthen a damaged or decayed tooth.
Crowns are most commonly used to:
• Replace a large filling
• Strengthen a fractured tooth
• Cover a dental implant
• Serve as an anchor for a dental bridge
• Conceal a discolored or misshaped tooth
• Restore a tooth following root canal treatment
During the first visit, the dentist prepares the tooth by reducing its size to accommodate the crown. An impression of the tooth is then taken and sent to an offsite dental laboratory where it is fabricated according to the tooth’s exact specifications. Porcelain material is the most popular option for crowns today, as it is virtually indistinguishable from natural teeth. Gold or a combination of porcelain fused to gold can also be used. A temporary crown is attached to the tooth to protect it until the permanent crown is ready. At the following visit, the temporary crown is removed and the new crown is permanently positioned and bonded over the affected tooth.
A bridge is a restorative procedure that uses artificial teeth, also known as pontiff, to span the space where one or more natural teeth have been lost. There are various types of bridges, with the most common being traditional fixed bridges. Unlike traditional removable dentures, a fixed dental bridge is permanent, as it’s anchored by crowns on surrounding teeth at one or both sides of the gap. Other types of bridges, such as the cantilever bridge and the Maryland bonded bridge, are typically used in areas of the mouth where less chewing occurs.
Benefits of Bridges
The loss of one or more teeth can have a negative impact on a person’s dental health and self-confidence. Bridges can reverse the consequences of missing teeth by:
• Restoring the ability to chew and speak properly
• Preserving the shape of the face
• Alleviating stress on neighboring teeth
• Preventing remaining teeth from shifting out of alignment
• Renewing self-confidence with an improved smile
Placement of a bridge requires at least two visits. First, the dentist prepares and reshapes the surrounding teeth to accommodate a crown. Then an impression of the patient’s teeth is taken and sent to a dental lab where the crown and bridge are created. Between visits the patient wears a temporary bridge until the final bridge is installed and adjusted.
The second appointment involves removal of the temporary bridge. The permanent, lab-ready bridge is securely fitted and adjusted. Follow-up visits to adjust the bridge may be necessary until the patient and dentist reach the optimal fit.