Gingivectomy and gingivoplasty are complimentary periodontal procedures, often done in combination.  They can both be surgical, and are procedures to reshape and re-contour the gums.  The difference is that a gingivectomy is more oriented to curing disease, while gingivoplasty is more often cosmetic in nature to improve the appearance of gums and smile.

Gingivectomy:   An oral surgery that is done to halt the progression of periodontitis/gum disease.  It becomes necessary when the gums have pulled away from the teeth, creating deep pockets that make it difficult to clean away plaque that cannot be eliminated with antibiotics or by scaling and root planning (a.k.a. dental debridement), and must be removed.  This involves removing a small section of the gum tissue that forms the pocket, allowing better access for calculus removal and smoothing of the roots to enhance reattachment of gum tissue, also eliminating gum enlargements and abscesses.  A gingivectomy is usually recommended before gum disease has damaged the bone supporting your teeth.

Gingivoplasty:  Normally done in combination with gingivectomy to correct deformities by reshaping and re-contouring the gums, for cosmetic, physiological, or functional purposes.  Can correct a gummy smile (also called dental crown lengthening), usually targeting the upper front teeth.  As the name suggests, this involves reducing the amount of gum and increasing the area of teeth that your smile exposes.  It’s also done to correct an uneven gum line by improving the symmetry of the gum line.

While crown lengthening is primarily thought of as a cosmetic procedure designed to improve the way your smile looks, it can also have real health benefits – by exposing more of the roots of your teeth it becomes easier to care for them, and it can help you prevent tooth decay by maintaining a thorough regimen of good dental hygiene.

The most obvious signs of early gum disease are swollen gums and bleeding.  If a gingivectomy is being considered, it’s important to consult with your physician because risks for infection must be assessed prior to surgery.  Scaling and root planing should be performed to remove plaque and calculus to see if gum health improves.  The level of damage can be determined by signs of inflammation and by measuring the pocket depth.

It might take a few days or weeks for the gums to completely heal.  Over the counter medication for pain should be sufficient.  Recommendations for oral health management after surgery include:

  • Regular professional deep cleaning by a dental hygienist.
  • Visits to the dentist every three months for the first year to remove plaque and tartar buildup.
  • After a year, periodontal cleaning is required every six months.

If you are interested in gingivectomy/gingivoplasty in Costa Rica, fill out the “Find a Dentist” form on this page.  One of our patient advocates will reply to your needs.