Exploring Gum Trimming, Gingivectomy, and Gingivoplasty


The phrases gum trimming, gingivectomy and gingivoplasty, are gaining more popularity in recent times.

Gum trimming?

An increasingly common issue that dentists encounter during consultations is patients complaining, “Doctor, I had my gums cut, but they grew back and look the same as before.” Does this situation sound familiar to you? This occurrence arises due to a simple misunderstanding, which I will elaborate on in this post. It’s essential to differentiate between gum trimming and the following procedures, which I will discuss in-depth. These procedures include:

  1. Gingivoplasty
  2. GingivectomyY
  3. Clinical Crown Lengthening

Although their names may be similar, these treatments differ significantly in their approach.

gum trimming gingivectomy and gingivoplasty

What is Gingivoplasty?

Derived from the Greek word “plastia” meaning “modeling,” gingivoplasty is a surface-level procedure used to correct minor aesthetic issues or to ensure a proper fit of dental crowns or veneers. However, this procedure is not advisable for significant changes as it is the most straightforward method.

What is gingivectomy and what does it have to do with gum trimming?

The term “ectomy” originates from the Greek word “cut,” meaning that during a gingivectomy, the gums are cut. This procedure proves particularly beneficial when there is an excess of gum tissue, such as in cases of gingivitis, where gums become inflamed, larger than normal, and bleed. In such instances, gingivectomy becomes an ideal solution to remove the excess gum. Additionally, when a condition called “passive eruption” is absent, this procedure is also recommended. But what exactly is passive eruption?

The two types of tooth eruption are active and passive. Active eruption occurs when the tooth emerges from the gum and bone, moves into the mouth, and reaches its proper position. On the other hand, passive eruption happens when the tooth is already in its proper position, but the gum covers a portion of it, making it appear smaller than it is. A useful comparison is the nail and the cuticle; when the nail is in position but covered by the cuticle, it looks smaller than normal. This same principle applies to passive eruption.

When dealing with passive eruption, the procedure to correct it is relatively simple and can be done using a scalpel or an electrocautery (the latter being the recommended method for its ability to reduce bleeding and improve recovery). The procedure can be carried out by either a general dentist or a periodontist (gum specialist).

What is clinical crown lengthening?

Clinical crown lengthening is a more extensive procedure that involves trimming not just the gum, but also the underlying bone. This treatment is ideally carried out by a periodontist and requires a minimum recovery period of one month (preferably three months) before subsequent definitive procedures like crowns, ceramic veneers, etc. can be performed. One of the advantages of this treatment is that since both gum and bone are trimmed, the gum does not grow back to its previous position, preserving the biological spaces of the tooth.

One of the main reasons why many gum clippings fail is that most people who seek gum trimming are actually better suited for the clinical crown lengthening procedure. Typically, individuals who are not suffering from gum overgrowth due to inflammation and who have not experienced a lack of passive eruption are candidates for this more extensive procedure. These are often people who desire larger teeth to improve the symmetry and harmony of their smile or those who feel that they show too much gum when they laugh.

Without the trimming of both gum and bone, the procedure will likely result in a waste of money, as the gum may grow back to its previous position within a few months. In addition to clinical crown lengthening, botulinum toxin can also be used to enhance this type of smile. This injectable neurotoxin works to relax the muscles and prevent the appearance of excessive gum tissue when smiling, resulting in a more aesthetically pleasing smile.

Is gum trimming possible in Medellín?

Our dental clinic in Medellín offers various options for gum trimming procedures. However, it is important to note that before proceeding with the treatment, it is essential to take dental x-rays. These x-rays can help determine whether the patient has adequate supporting bone and healthy roots. If a patient has short roots, for instance, the procedure may not be recommended as it can lead to future damage. Our team of dental professionals takes great care to ensure that all patients receive personalized treatment plans that are safe and effective for their unique needs.

Sara Pelaez Monsalve

Aesthetic dentistry with more than 14 years of experience in the field. Founder of Clinica Viena and Viena Kids (clinic focused on pediatric dentistry). Professional focused on patient care, on the application of best practices and high-quality world-class treatments.

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