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Why Do My Gums Show So Much?

Updated on July 24, 2010

And What Can I Do About It?

There are many possible reasons why your gums might show more than you would like and it's impossible to give specific advice without a thorough examination. In the meantime, you need to ask yourself the following questions:

* Have your gums always been like this or is it a recent development?

* Are they firm, pink and stippled or red, shiny and swollen? Do they bleed?

In other words, do you gums show because they're enlarged, or is it because of your face shape? If the middle third of your face is small and you have a high lip line (which often goes with mouth breathing) then even perfectly normal, healthy gums will show more.

* Are you taking any medication? For example, some medicines for epilepsy can cause enlarged gums - but if you are on these, DON'T stop taking your meds. Ask your doctor to change you onto a different one.

If your gums are inflamed, it will almost certainly be associated with accumulation of plaque and tartar – mainly beneath the gum where you can’t get at it. This is a job for the hygienist and it will respond to scrupulous oral hygiene measures.

If the gum is still enlarged and overlapping the enamel after the inflammation has been cured, then gingivectomy (cutting the gum back) may be the answer – but it is very, very rarely necessary (I’ve only done 2 in the last 15 years and they were both for patients on long-term epilepsy medication) If you do need a gingivectomy, it will not hurt at all, because your gums will be numbed, first with paste and then an injection. It will be a little sore afterwards, though. As for whether a laser or scalpel would be used, that depends on so many variables that there’s no point speculating without seeing you.

If your gums show because that’s just the way your face is, you can change it but it’s a much bigger job. If you have the gum cut back you will be left with teeth that look very long and which are sensitive to hot and cold – because the root has been uncovered. Then you’ll need veneers to correct that. It’s do-able but you need to know what you’re getting into in terms of time, commitment, possible complications and expense.

So, if your gums show more than you would like, go see a dentist and discuss which options would be right and appropriate for you.

Tom Nolan is a dentist with over 30 years’ experience.

If you found this article useful, you should check out his book

Watch Your Mouth – An Owner’s Manual.

Also available as a download. This book is packed with practical advice and will tell you everything you need to know to keep your mouth healthy, trouble-free and beautiful for the rest of your life.

You can get in touch via Tom's practice: The Dentist in Town.

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