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What Is a Gum Lift?

A woman with healthy gums.
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  • Written By: Jacquelyn Gilchrist
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 01 July 2014
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A gum lift is a type of dental surgery that is also commonly called a crown lengthening procedure or a gingivectomy. The surgeon will remove a portion of the gum tissue and reshape the gum line. This surgery may be performed for cosmetic purposes, to fix a tooth, or to treat gum disease. When it is done for cosmetic reasons, the goal of the surgery is to expose more of the tooth. Otherwise, a patient will undergo a gum lift to remove diseased gum tissue, or to allow a dentist to properly position a crown or a filling.

Before undergoing a gum lift, patients will likely meet with a periodontist to have x-rays taken. Patients may be advised to have a tooth cleaning performed prior to the surgery. They should inform the periodontist of any other medical conditions they have, including allergies, as well as any medications or supplements they are taking.

This dental surgery is performed on an outpatient basis, and typically takes about 30 minutes. A local anesthetic will be used to numb the area so that the patient does not experience any pain. The surgeon will then remove portions of the gum tissue, often with a laser.

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If the gum lift is performed for cosmetic reasons, the surgeon will remove excess gum tissue to make the gum line more even, also exposing more of the tooth. When the procedure is used to treat gum disease, the unhealthy tissues are removed and gums are reshaped so that they fit the teeth more tightly. Sometimes, gum tissue needs to be removed in order for a crown or filling to fit the tooth properly.

After performing the gum lift, the surgeon will apply a special putty over the gum line to protect it. This is a temporary adhesive, used to protect the tissues and enable the patient to eat soft foods during the healing process. In some cases, the patient may receive small stitches instead. The gums may take several weeks to fully heal. Those who undergo the surgery to receive a crown or filling should wait for three months before having this additional dental work done.

Before having a gum lift, patients should discuss the potential risks with their dentists. Some patients have reported that their teeth are more sensitive to hot and cold sensations. Occasionally, persistent bleeding may occur or an infection may develop. Those who smoke are at a greater risk of developing an infection. Patients should contact their doctors immediately if they experience persistent bleeding, persistent pain, or excessive swelling and discharge.

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