Everything You Need to Know About Gum Contouring

An estimated 10% of adults between the ages of 20 and 30 have excessive gingival display, also known as a "gummy smile." This is when too much gum tissue above your top teeth shows when you smile.

One way to treat a gummy smile is with a cosmetic dentistry procedure known as gum contouring.

Continue reading to learn more about gum contouring, including what the procedure and recovery are like and how much it costs.

side view of a smiling person

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What Is Gum Contouring?

Gum contouring, medically known as gingivoplasty, is the surgical reshaping of gums around the teeth. It is usually done by a periodontist or cosmetic dentist, in their office. During the procedure, they use a laser to cut away portions of the gums, exposing more of your tooth's surface and giving you a more even gumline. In some cases, a scalpel may be used. 

Gingivectomy is also a gum contouring procedure but it's specifically for the removal of diseased gum tissues.

The depth of each tooth limits how much tissue can be removed. Your dentist will determine that with you and may recommend additional procedures to prepare for gingivoplasty. Because of these limitations, a proper diagnosis is required to treat very excessive gummy smiles. Other treatments may include orthodontics, orthognathic surgery, or even plastic surgery.

Who’s a Good Candidate for Gum Contouring?

Your dentist or periodontist will evaluate the health of your teeth and gums and will measure your smile line and your overall facial symmetry to decide if gum contouring is right for you. If not, they may recommend another cosmetic dentistry procedure instead. Gingivoplasty is generally considered to be safe for most adults, including older adults.

Who’s Not a Good Candidate?

Tell your detist about any medications you're taking. Some of them, including epilepsy drugs (anticonvulsants), immunosuppressants, and calcium channel blockers used to treat high blood pressure, can trigger excessive gum growth and could interfere with the results of the procedure.

What’s the Procedure Like?

When you arrive at the dentist's office, you'll be given a local anesthetic to numb your gums; you'll be awake during the procedure. Gum contouring usually takes less than an hour. To fully treat a gummy smile, your dentist may recommend you come back in for crowns or veneers.

What’s Recovery Like?

If your doctor is using a laser, you won’t need stitches. If they’re using a scalpel, you will need stitches. Either way, most people recover from gum contouring within one to two weeks. Until then, you’ll be able to go about most of your normal daily activities, but your gums may be extra sensitive.

The biggest adjustment in recovery is to your diet. As is the case with many laser cosmetic dentistry procedures, in order to avoid irritating your gums, you'll be sticking to a diet of soft foods, like eggs, soup, or smoothies. Avoid foods that are spicy, very acidic, or very hard, since these can scratch or inflame your gums.

How Much Does It Cost?

Gum contouring is usually priced per tooth, and the price can vary widely. You might pay $50–$350 per tooth. It can cost $3,000 or more to have all of your top front teeth done.

Since gum contouring is usually cosmetic, your dental insurance likely won’t cover it. If you’re considering the procedure, get a few quotes to ensure you’re getting a fair price. 

How Long Does Gum Contouring Last?

For most people, gum contouring lasts forever. It’s important to practice good oral hygiene, including brushing your teeth at least twice a day and getting regular dental cleanings.


Gum contouring is a cosmetic procedure that can improve the look of a gummy smile. The procedure is done in a dentist's or periodontist’s office under local anesthesia. Most people recover within a week or two. Because it's a cosmetic procedure, gum contouring is generally not covered by insurance.

A Word From Verywell 

If you are unhappy with your smile, talk to your dentist about your options. A cosmetic procedure like gum contouring could go a long way toward boosting your self-confidence.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How much does gum contouring cost?

    The cost varies but is typically between $50 and $350 or more per tooth. Getting multiple quotes can help you ensure you’re getting a fair price. 

  • How long does gum contouring last?

    For most people, gum contouring is permanent. But some prescription medications are known to promote excessive gum growth; if you're taking one of them, talk to your tooth care specialist about what to expect. 

  • How painful is gum contouring?

    Gum contouring is done under local anesthesia, so the procedure itself is not painful. Afterward, most people manage pain with over-the-counter pain medications and ice. Recovery typically takes a week or two.

  • Is gum contouring bad for you?

    Gum contouring isn't associated with any major health risks. Talk with your dentist about whether the procedure might be right for you. 

11 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Kelly Burch
Kelly Burch is has written about health topics for more than a decade. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, and more.