A radiant smile is considered one of the most attractive features, and while we often focus on the pearly whites, the health and appearance of our gums play a crucial role in achieving that perfect smile. Prof. Howard Gluckman shines a light on the realm of periodontal plastic surgery – a specialised field that blends health and aesthetics to sculpt and enhance the gums, ultimately transforming the overall beauty of your smile.
The Aesthetics of the Smile
The aesthetics of the smile extend beyond just the teeth. The gums act as a frame, providing a harmonious balance to the teeth and contributing significantly to the overall attractiveness of a smile. Healthy, well-proportioned gums complement the teeth, ensuring your smile appears balanced and natural. When the gums are too prominent, uneven, or receded – or if you are missing the triangular piece of gum between the teeth (papilla) – it can affect the smile’s symmetry, diminishing its visual appeal.
Periodontal Plastic Surgery Techniques
Gum Grafting Procedures
Gum recession is caused by orthodontic treatment, aggressive brushing, teeth grinding, and trauma. This leads to exposure of the roots, which can cause poor aesthetics, temperature sensitivity, and root damage. Gum grafting addresses these problems. These procedures involve taking a small amount of tissue from the palate and transplanting it to areas with gum recession. Gum grafting restores a natural and attractive gum line, improving aesthetics and oral health.
Crown Lengthening & Gummy Smile Management
Excessive gum display when smiling or irregular gum levels on different teeth are associated with poor aesthetics. Crown lengthening or gummy smile management are techniques recommended when excess gum tissue covers the teeth, making them appear shorter and square, thus contributing to a gummy smile. By reshaping the gum line, this procedure exposes more of the natural tooth surface, creating longer and more proportionate teeth. This comprehensive approach not only enhances the smile’s aesthetics but also addresses issues related to tooth proportions and gum visibility, achieving a harmonious balance.
*performed by Prof. Howard Gluckman. Published with patient consent
Gum Pigmentation Removal
Dark pigmentation on the gums can occur for a number of reasons. In some instances, it can affect the overall aesthetics of the smile. The irregular dark pigment takes away the natural pink colour of the gums and draws the eye to the darker areas. Laser therapy can safely and effectively remove the pigmentation atraumatically, restoring a uniform and radiant gum colour and enhancing the overall aesthetics of the smile.
Aesthetics & Beyond
Beyond the cosmetic benefits, periodontal plastic surgery positively impacts oral health. Addressing issues such as gum recession, uneven gum levels, and pigmentation enhances the smile’s appearance while promoting healthier gums and teeth, reducing the risk of complications.
The Intersection of Health & Aesthetics
Periodontal plastic surgery enhances the visual appeal of your smile and intersects with optimal oral health. Gum grafting, for instance, not only addresses cosmetic concerns but also plays a crucial role in preventing further gum recession, reducing tooth sensitivity, and protecting tooth roots.
Crown lengthening and gummy smile management expose more tooth surface for aesthetic reasons and contribute to better oral hygiene. It becomes easier to clean and maintain teeth that are not excessively covered by gum tissue, reducing the risk of plaque and bacterial build-up.
Gum pigmentation removal, while primarily cosmetic, can also reveal potential underlying issues. Dark spots on the gums may sometimes indicate pigmentation irregularities or the presence of certain health conditions. Removing these pigmented areas not only enhances a smile but also allows for a closer examination of overall gum health.
Periodontal plastic surgery seamlessly blends health and aesthetics to achieve a beautiful smile that reflects optimal oral well-being. By considering these advanced techniques, individuals can proactively enhance the aesthetics of their smiles and ensure a lifetime of confidence. A healthy and stunning smile is a true testament to overall well-being and self-assurance.
As we delve into the artistry of periodontal plastic surgery, it’s essential to recognise its multifaceted impact. Beyond the surface-level improvements, these procedures contribute significantly to oral health, creating a symbiotic relationship between aesthetics and overall well-being.
Embrace the transformative power of periodontal plastic surgery, and let your smile radiate both beauty and health.
BDS MChD (OMP) (Stell) PhD
Prof Howard Gluckman is an internationally renowned implantologist, author, and lecturer. He runs a full-time private practice in Cape Town www.enamel.clinic, and is the co-founder and director of the Implant and Aesthetic Academy (IAA), in Cape Town and London. Prof Gluckman is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Periodontics at the University of Pennsylvania and has been honoured with Adjunct Assistant Professor of the University of the Western Cape.
After completing his dental training at the University of Witwatersrand in 1990, Howard spent a few years in general practice. He then took on a four-year degree in Oral Medicine and Periodontics at the University of Stellenbosch, which he completed with Distinction (Cum Laude). Howard became instrumental in developing the University of Stellenbosch and the University of the Western Cape’s postgraduate Implantology Diploma. Howard completed his Ph.D. Summa Cum Laude at the University of Szeged in Hungary, supervised by Professor Katalin Nagy.
In addition, Howard is an expert in and thought leader on Partial Extraction Therapy. His expertise includes Socket Shield, Pontic Shield (a procedure he developed and published in 2016), and Submerged Root Technique.
In 2024, Prof. Howard Gluckman was awarded the 10th Annual Morton Amsterdam Lifetime Award for the Teaching of Multidisciplinary Dentistry by DentalXP.