Say cheese!


  Posted by: Dental Design      3rd December 2023

How cosmetic dentistry can give patients the smile they’ve always wanted

Whether social media is discussing if pop chameleon Miley Cyrus has recently undergone gum contouring (#gumgone) or the fact that a former Boyzone pop star has got his own TV show exploring the huge popularity of veneers (#keithsteeth), there can be no doubt that the demand for aesthetic dental treatments is on the up and up.

Long gone is the simple view of a drill and fill dental practice. These days patients are seeking far more from their dental professional. Cosmetic bonding, dental implants, smile makeovers, gum contouring, crowns, whitening and veneers – in this Instagram-ready world patients are exploring new ways to ensure they look the very best they can.

Take Miley’s purported gum contouring. The excessive gingival display when a patient smiles (from 4mm or more), known as a gummy smile, along with a short clinical crown of the maxillary anterior teeth can characterise a potential aesthetic problem.[i] Some cases are not solved through gingival recontouring (GR) though due to the amount of gingival display. One of the latest therapeutic options still being explored is to combine GR with the traction and containment surgery of the elevator muscle of the upper lip and wing of the nose.i

There are certain parameters that need to be assessed prior to any gum contouring procedure. These are: the patient’s expectations, systemic health, and habits; height, symmetry of the face and smile line; the thickness, size and profile of the lip; size and shapes of the teeth; gingival biotype and width of keratinised gingiva; and the thickness and contour of the alveolar bone.[ii]

Gingival contouring can be performed by many means including scalpel surgery, electrocautery and lasers. In most cosmetic dentistry cases, it can be successfully performed by the soft tissue diode laser.ii This helps to establish a state of haemostasis and facilitate gingival recontouring. In some cases of minor corrections, laser gum contouring can be done even without local anaesthetics.ii

A more pedestrian aesthetic treatment, though one in very high demand (the industry is estimated to be worth over £40m annually),[iii] is tooth whitening. While the practice has been around for a long time – some say the ancient Egyptians were at it 4,000 years ago! – what really brought the treatment into its own was the Covid-19 pandemic. The effect of Zoom and Teams chats and meetings triggered many to scrutinise their appearance in a way they hadn’t before. According to a survey carried out in February 2020, 22% of Brits said that they probably would get their teeth professionally whitened, with a further 10% reporting that they definitely would or that they already had. In the youngest age group 18 to 24 years of age, 40% of respondents reported they probably would whiten their teeth.[iv]

Hydrogen peroxide is the most common teeth whitening method used by dentists. While it has been shown to be effective at various concentrations (35%, 37.5%, 38% and 40%), the percentage change in these concentrations makes little to no difference to the effectiveness.[v] The use of hydroxyapatite is a new teeth whitening method that is currently being explored. Applying it to the teeth creates another, man-made layer of enamel. The result is a white, vinyl-like coating, making the teeth appear artificially white.[vi]

Dental professionals looking to expand into aesthetic dentistry or those already active and wanting to grow their offering, will be well served by the BACD Aesthetic Theatre at next year’s BDIA Dental Showcase. The BACD Aesthetic Theatre will be hosting a range of speakers looking at the latest innovations, treatments and ideas in cosmetic dental and facial aesthetics. Attendees will be able to learn how they can implement ethical cosmetic dentistry into their daily practice to help maximise patients’ options and increase your clinical scope. Registration for the event opens in November but to keep up to date with the latest Showcase announcements dental professionals can register their interest at

As demand for aesthetic treatments grows, dental professionals need to stay up to date with the very latest trends and procedures in order to see their practice thrive and grow.

BDIA Dental Showcase 2024

22nd-23rd March

ExCeL London

[i] Storrer CL, Valverde FK, Santos FR, Deliberador TM. Treatment of gummy smile: Gingival recontouring with the containment of the elevator muscle of the upper lip and wing of nose. A surgery innovation technique. J Indian Soc Periodontol. 2014 Sep;18(5):656-60. doi: 10.4103/0972-124X.142468. PMID: 25425832; PMCID: PMC4239760. [Accessed August 2023]

[ii] Narayanan M, Laju S, Erali SM, Erali SM, Fathima AZ, Gopinath PV. Gummy Smile Correction with Diode Laser: Two Case Reports. J Int Oral Health. 2015;7(Suppl 2):89-91. PMID: 26668491; PMCID: PMC4672859. [Accessed August 2023]

[iii] Oral Health Foundation [Accessed August 2023]

[iv] Statista [Accessed August 2023]

[v] Peydro-Herrero M, Montiel-Company JM, Labaig-Rueda C, Solá-Ruiz MF, Agustín-Panadero R, Amengual-Lorenzo J. Clinical Efficacy of Four In-Office Vital Tooth Bleaching Products with Different Concentrations of Hydrogen Peroxide: A Randomized, Quadruple-Blind Clinical Trial. Applied Sciences. 2020; 10(13):4650. [Accessed August 2023]

[vi] Limeback H, Meyer F, Enax J. Tooth Whitening with Hydroxyapatite: A Systematic Review. Dentistry Journal. 2023; 11(2):50. [Accessed August 2023]

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