The soft tissue of the tongue, gums, and inner cheek are vital parts of your dental and periodontal health that are often neglected in favor of the teeth. But as excess teeth can cause crowding and an awkward bite, excess soft tissue can also cause both cosmetic and physical issues.
Your dentist can help develop a treatment strategy for excess soft tissue. The procedure will depend on what soft tissue is affected:
Your mouth has three frenum, or muscles that attach two sections of tissue. There is one labial frenulum that connects your upper gums to your upper lip and another that attaches the bottom gums to its lip. The lingual frenulum connects the underside of your tongue to the bottom of your mouth.
Excess tissue on the labial frenum can cause a large gap between the lip and the teeth. The tissue can also interfere with the development of the two foremost teeth during childhood and you will likely have a gap between those teeth.
An overly long lingual frenulum can leave you literally tongue-tied as the tongue doesn't have a full range of movement. You might have troubles speaking and/or swallowing.
Your dentist can trim away any of this extra soft tissue using a procedure called a frenectomy. Local anesthetic will numb the area and the dentist will simply slice away the excess tissue and stitch closed the incision. The stitches will dissolve on their own when ready. Aftercare includes keeping the area clean, avoiding abrasive foods for a short period of time, and keeping any followup appointments.
Do you have excess gum tissue that makes your teeth look unusually small? Your dentist can help improve the appearance of your smile with a procedure called gingivectomy, which is the only healthy way to make abundant gums look more proportional with the teeth.
Your dentist will numb the gums and carefully trim away the excess tissue. The remaining tissue will be shaped around the bottom of the tooth so that it looks like the natural top of your gum line. This reshaping procedure is called a gingivoplasty.
As with a frenectomy, the healing time following these procedures is fairly short. You might need to follow a specialized diet for a couple of days until the tenderness goes away. Your dentist might prescribe an antibiotic if you're at a high risk of infection due to previous periodontal disease. But then you should be able to go back to eating, chewing, and smiling confidently. Contact a dental professional for more information.