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Year : 2014  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 29-33

Gingival cosmetic resculpturing for a complete smile designing using diode laser

1 Department of Conservative Dentistry and Endodontics, Rama Dental College, Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, India
2 Consultant Periodontist and Implantologist, New Delhi, India

Date of Web Publication9-Jun-2014

Correspondence Address:
Vinisha Pandey
117/H-1, 312 Model Town, Pandu Nagar, Kakadeo, Kanpur - 208 005, Uttar Pradesh
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0976-2868.134122

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If the teeth can be described as the canvas of a painting, then the gum tissue is the frame around the canvas. In other words, disproportionate gum tissue can make or break the smile. 'What nature gives and man forms can achieve essential harmony and benefits in right hands, like lasers in dentistry. Gum sculpturing is usually done in conjunction with veneers, as the gum is likely to just grow back down without them. The aim of this case presentation is to demonstrate an alternative method to treat one of the causes of gummy smile, by using LASER which provides us "Dentists" with so many benefits.

Keywords: Gum sculpturing, gummy smile, laser

How to cite this article:
Pandey V, Kumar V. Gingival cosmetic resculpturing for a complete smile designing using diode laser. J Dent Lasers 2014;8:29-33

How to cite this URL:
Pandey V, Kumar V. Gingival cosmetic resculpturing for a complete smile designing using diode laser. J Dent Lasers [serial online] 2014 [cited 2023 Dec 2];8:29-33. Available from:

  Introduction Top

In this ever-changing world of fast-paced communication, marketing, and shared intelligence, the appearance or looks of someone or something can "make or break" the end result. Whether we peruse online, at the bookstore, at our favorite clothing store, or at a new job interview, the way that we look can have a major impact on acceptance and its end result. [1] It has been well-documented that looking good can enhance social, romantic, and economic consequences and allow an attractive person to get a better job. It now is universally accepted that looking good directly affects an individual's self-confidence and the image that he or she conveys. Because the face and mouth are the most noticeable parts of the human body, it is no wonder that there is such an increase in demand for the smile and teeth makeovers in everyday dental practices. [1] "Esthetic" or "cosmetic" dentistry is none other than restorative general dentistry completed to a level that simply makes every attempt to mimic a natural look. Moving from the "mechanical age" to the "adhesive age" in dentistry has forced practitioners to view teeth in an entirely different context. The profession also is seeing a change in the way gingival tissue is handled: With regard to gingival sculpting, it is seeing a move from the "steel (scalpel) age" to the "laser age." It now is possible, thanks to lasers, to alter gingival tissue conservatively to create a more natural, symmetric, and harmonious appearance. [1]

The acronym LASER stands for light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation. [2]

There are essentially five types of lasers currently in the armamentarium for the esthetic dental practice. This list includes argon, carbon dioxide, diode, erbium, and pulsed neodymium-doped: Yttrium-aluminum-garnet (Nd: YAG) lasers.

Argon lasers

These wavelengths emit energy that is absorbed primarily by hemoglobin. This attribute allows for precision cutting, vaporizing, hemostasis, and coagulation of vascular tissue in a contact or noncontact mode. The use of argon in the curing of composite restorations and bonding cements occurs at low power levels (200-500 mW) in the 514-nm range (blue portion of the visible light electromagnetic spectrum). Another application of argon lasers at this wavelength is trans-illumination of teeth for the purpose of detecting tooth fractures and carious lesions. [2]

Carbon dioxide lasers

Carbon dioxide lasers mainly are used for vaporizing, cutting, and coagulation of soft tissue, which includes gross tissue debulking, frenectomies, gingivoplasties, gingivectomies, and biopsies. Due to power and pulsed energy limitations, these lasers are not suitable for cutting bone and tooth structure. [2]

Diode lasers

There are two different wavelengths produced by surgical diode lasers. One uses aluminum-gallium-arsenide to emit approximately 800-nm wavelengths and the other uses indium-gallium-arsenide to emit 980-nm light energy. These lasers are used in contact mode for rapid cutting, vaporizing, and bacterial reduction of tissue adjacent to tooth structure and used in noncontact mode for deeper coagulation. [2]

Erbium family of lasers

Erbium laser wavelengths are absorbed by collagen, hydroxyapatite, and water components, which allow the lasers to cut soft tissue, tooth structure, and bone. There are two types of erbium lasers in dentistry today. The erbium: YAG (Er: YAG) laser produces a wavelength of 2940-nm that allows it to cut teeth easily, quickly, and precisely. The erbium, chromium: Yttrium-scandium-gallium-garnet laser operates at a wavelength of 2790-nm and has similar surgical attributes to the Er: YAG. These lasers can be used in contact and noncontact modes. In noncontact mode, the cut is scalpel-like, with very little hemostasis. In the contact mode, there is the ability to perform soft tissue sculpting, with adequate hemostasis. [2]

Neodymium-doped: Yttrium-aluminum-garnet lasers

Free-running pulsed Nd: YAG lasers are available only in the 1064-nm wavelength. They have the same use as the diode and argon devices; in addition, there currently are some pulsed Nd: YAG lasers that are cleared by the Food and Drug Administration for the selective removal of first-degree caries, with little interaction to the surrounding healthy enamel. [2]

To fully understand the impact that lasers have had on smile design, it is imperative to have a firm grasp on what is to be achieved.

Charles Darwin said that "beauty is the association of many complex associations." Undoubtedly, this theory can be applied to the art and science of esthetic dentistry. Harmony of function, biology, and appearance is paramount in creating long-term results for patients.

One of the more challenging aspects of these multiple associations is gingival symmetry and health. [3]

The following are the 10 principles of smile designing: [4]

  • The golden proportion of maxillary anterior teeth (from canine to canine) is determined by using the laterals as a factor of 1. It is known from the literature that the golden numbers are 1.6 to 1.0 to 0.6. Applying the golden numbers to the maxillary anterior dentition makes the central incisors 1.6, the width of the laterals and the canines 0.6, and the width of the laterals
  • Length and width of the central incisors. The logical starting point for any esthetic smile is the central incisors. If the central incisors are square or elongated, then their appearance does not reflect proper proportions. This so-called "disproportioned appearance" throws off the rest of the dental arch. The length of the central incisor is divided by the width to obtain an ideal range of 75-80%, with 75% being too long and 80% being too short
  • Midline and arch alignment. The midline should be represented by a vertical line that runs down the center of the face. Even if the nose is not straight, the midline should be centered and straight. The arch alignment should be perpendicular to the midline or parallel with the eyes unless the eyes are canted
  • Axial inclination. The teeth should have a slight mesial inclination of the vertical axis. This axial inclination is a line drawn from the gingival axis to the center of the incisal edge (or the incisal apex when referring to the canine). The central incisors are the straightest to this axial line, with a gradual mesial inclination as one move toward the first premolar. From the first premolar distally, the axial inclination stays constant
  • The lower lip line (vs. the incisal edge) calls for the incisal edges of the maxillary teeth to follow the lower lip line, without touching the lower lip in a relaxed position, unless esthetics or function mandates contact
  • The interproximal contact points should be close to the incisal edges of the centrals and should gradually move cervically as one move posteriorly
  • The gradation of the posterior teeth should be consistent and symmetric as one move in an anterior-to-posterior direction. This anterior-to-posterior direction should see a gradual reduction in the size of the teeth
  • When viewing the arch form, drawing a line from canine to canine bisects the incisive papilla in about 92% of the cases
  • Gingival symmetry. The objective is to create symmetry and contour on both sides of the midline, with regard to the gingival height of the corresponding teeth
  • Gingival contour and zenith. If one draw an imaginary line from the gingival zenith of the two maxillary canines, one find that ideally, the canines and centrals are at the same level, with the laterals anywhere from 1-2 mm shorter than both the centrals and canines.

Dental lasers easily address the last two principles: Gingival symmetry and contour.

The process of reshaping the gum (gingival) tissue around the teeth is called cosmetic gingival sculpturing, gum sculpting, gum contouring, or gingival contouring. It involves using a tissue laser to remove and sculpt uneven and/or excessive gum tissue. It is not a very traumatic or invasive procedure and often results in healthy, natural looking gums. Patients often report having "a young looking smile."

Gum sculpting is not only done for cosmetic reasons, but can be done as one component in the management of poor dental hygiene. It will reduce or eliminate areas around the gums, where food can be trapped and calculus can build up leading to periodontal pockets.

Advantages of lasers used for cosmetic smile enhancement are: [5]

  • Ability to seal blood vessels, creating a more bloodless field and decreased need for sutures
  • Seal lymphatic vessels, decreasing postoperative swelling and scarring.
  • Reduced mechanical trauma
  • Instant sterilization of the surgical site that can be helpful in operative procedures and surgical care.

  Case Report Top


The patient was a 23-year-old woman with no medical concerns or history. After examination, it was apparent that the golden proportion of the six upper anterior teeth, the size and length on the centrals, the axial inclinations, the gradation, the gingival symmetry, contour, and zenith were not as esthetically pleasing as the patient desired [Figure 1]. Anatomical crowns of the maxillary anteriors were partially hidden by the gingiva and the clinical crowns were shorter than the anatomical ones. The patient requested esthetic improvement and wished to have conservative treatment. She wanted better-looking teeth and wanted that her smile should show "less gums."
Figure 1: Preoperative photograph showing gummy smile

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The treatment plan included conservative cosmetic gingival contouring; and minimal extension porcelain veneers. Informed consent was obtained from patient.

Polyvinyl siloxane impressions and preoperative pictures were taken for further study.

The patient was locally anesthetized and pencil marks were made to aid in the determination of proper gingival contour, symmetry, axial inclination, and zenith [Figure 2]. Probing depths were recorded to determine the biologic width and how much tissue could be contoured without involving osseous surgery [Figure 3]. A periodontal probe was placed apically to the alveolar crest, and the marginal gingival level was measured. Remembering that there exists a 3.0-mm biologic zone, the maximum amount of tissue removal could be only 1-1.5 mm.
Figure 2: Pencil marks to aid in gingival contour

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Figure 3: Periodontal probing depths were measured

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A GaAlAs diode laser (810-nm) was used to mark reference spots of the biologic zone, allowing the clinician to focus on esthetics and serving as the visual finishing point. Lasing began with the central incisors of the right side followed by the left side. In all the sculpting procedure a continuous shaving motion was used [Figure 4]. Postoperative instructions included avoidance of traumatizing the sites with a toothbrush or any hard, crunchy food. The patient was instructed to rinse after meals with warm salt water to remove any loose debris. The patient was advised to apply vitamin E topically to accelerate healing procedure. A 1 week evaluation was scheduled and the patient was instructed to call if there were any complications of moderate-to-severe pain, uncontrolled bleeding, or tissue sloughing. After primary healing of 4 weeks postsurgically, the tissues were healed and restorative care could be initiated [Figure 5]. The patient's teeth were prepared for veneers and impressions were taken with elastomeric impression materials (Zetaplus, ZHERMACK). Prototype provisionals were fabricated and cemented for a week [Figure 6]. After a week veneers were tried before final cementation. They were inspected for contour and fit not only labially for esthetics, but also occlusally for hygiene purposes. Using isolation procedures, preetched and silanated veneers were cemented with Calibra, Dentsply (USA). The patient was ecstatic about the esthetic results achieved through the perio-restorative procedure [Figure 7].
Figure 4: Lasing with GaAlAs diode laser in progress

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Figure 5: 4 weeks after healing

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Figure 6: Porcelain veneer preparation using three tier diamonds

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Figure 7: After porcelain veneer cementation

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  Conclusion Top

With expanding emphasis on minimally invasive care (e.g., Botox, mesotherapy), dentistry has as amazing an ally in laser technology. Carefully using the soft tissue lasers gives cosmetic dentistry a patient friendly tool to predictably and comfortably compliment the many advances in smile design. These are truly exciting times for patients and professionals alike! [3]

Advances in dental ceramic and advent of laser dentistry has simplified esthetic rehabilitation with predictable results. Relatively painless procedure and rapid healing as compared to conventional techniques make it a more friendly approach. Perio-restorative harmony should always be an integral part of any smile designing procedure. Dento-gingival complex plays an important role in the overall esthetics and long-term prognosis. [6]

  References Top

1.Adams TC, Pang PK. Lasers in aesthetic dentistry. Dent Clin North Am 2004;48:833-60, vi.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Smith ML. Laser assisted non-surgical periodontal therapy. In: Convissar RA, editor. Principles and Practice of Laser Dentistry. New York: Elsevier Health Sciences; 2010. p. 27-52.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Flax HD. Soft and hard tissue management using lasers in esthetic restoration. Dent Clin North Am 2011;55:383-402.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.McLaren EA, Cao PT. Smile design and esthetic design: In the zone. Inside Dentistry.; 2009. p. 45-8.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Wigdor HA, Walsh JT Jr, Featherstone JD, Visuri SR, Fried D, Waldvogel JL. Lasers in dentistry. Lasers Surg Med 1995;16:103-33.  Back to cited text no. 5
6.Calip G. Available from: discovering-the-artist-inside-a-three-step- approach-to-predictable-aesthetic-smile-designs-part-1. [Last accessed on 2013 May].  Back to cited text no. 6


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4], [Figure 5], [Figure 6], [Figure 7]


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