Health Team

Unhappy with your smile? Try a gum lift

Posted July 11, 2008 5:30 p.m. EDT
Updated July 11, 2008 6:32 p.m. EDT

People who don't want wrinkles can have a face lift. For those who don’t like their smile, there’s a lift for that, too.

Leta Lenik wanted a new reason to smile.

“The drive is to look better and feel better, to not be self-conscious when I smile,” she said.

She wasn’t only unhappy with her teeth, but also her gum line. To change that, Periodontist Joseph Zelig gave Lenik a gum lift.

“Very often, patients have problems with their gum line. They have gum lines that are uneven, that are asymmetrical (and) that are disproportional,” Zelig said. “The gums are the frame around the teeth, just like a frame around a picture outlines a picture.”

Zelig used to do the procedure with a scalpel, which required heavy anesthesia and stitches. He now uses a laser to remove unwanted gums in less than an hour.

“There’s minimal to no bleeding. There’s no discomfort to the patient. There’s very often no stitches needed,” he said.

With the old procedure, patients could only have liquids and soft foods for up to two weeks until their stitches came out. With the laser, patients have soreness for a day or two and can eat normally almost right away.

After Lenik’s procedure, the gum between her front teeth was gone. With the new room, the dentist was able to add veneers to brighten and straighten her smile.

“I think it looks much, much better. I’m (really) happy with it,” she said. “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. The gum lift costs about $500 a tooth. Lenik’s new look cost her $2,500.

About 80 to 90 percent of all gum lifts are accompanied by veneers to close gaps and improve the shape of the teeth.