New York — Leta Lenik wants a new reason to smile.
"I dont' like the way my smile is," she said. "The drive is to look better and feel better, to not be self-conscious when I smile."
She's not happy with her teeth or her gum line.
"Very often, patients have problems with their gum line," periodontist Joseph Zelig said. "They have gum lines that are uneven, that are asymetrical. They are disproportional."
So Lenik is getting a gum-lift.
"The gums are the frame around the teeth, just like a frame around a picture outlines a picture," Zelig said.
The old procedure required a scalpel with heavy anesthesia and stitches. Now a laser quickly removes unwanted gum.
"There's minimal to no bleeding," Zelig said. "There's no discomfort to the patient. There's very often no stitches needed."
There's only a day or two of soreness, and patients can eat solid food almost right away.
After Lenik's procedure, the gum between her front teeth is gone. With the new room between her teeth, the dentist was able to add veneers to brighten and straighten her smile.
"I think it looks much, much better," Lenik said. "I'm real happy with it. Now we can't wait for the next family reunion so I can smile in the pictures."
But that new smile doesn't come cheap. A gum lift costs around $500 a tooth. Lenik's cost $2,500.