The word is out. More and more people now realize that the smile is key to beauty. Body shapes, muscles, chest size; perfection in these attributes has long been sought after, but these qualities are not universally recognized for beauty. One thing that almost everyone can agree on is that a great smile can go a long way, but a really bad smile is hard to ignore. People now are more than ever interested in taking care of their teeth. They want straight teeth, or white teeth, or larger teeth. To meet this demand, dentists spend countless hours becoming masters of the “esthetic smile”. You can have all these things, but the beautiful smile you’re after can be torpedoed by unhealthy or unesthetic gingiva (gum tissues). While many patients now see the benefits of clean, straight teeth, many undervalue or are not aware of what is right there next to the teeth: the gums. The gingiva play a crucial role in determining the esthetics of the teeth. It all starts with oral health. Unhealthy gums will be red, inflamed and bleed easily. People with gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) are prone to having gingival recession, developing black triangles (spaces in between the teeth where there should be gingiva). Flossing and brushing are paramount to maintaining healthy teeth and gums, but for many people good oral hygiene is not enough. Sometimes, there are esthetic conditions that just can’t be fixed with meticulous oral hygiene, routine visits to the hygienist or by Leonardo Da Vinci himself sculpting the perfect tooth shape and shade. Irregularities in gingival bulk, shape and proportion can crucial in how someone’s smile is perceived by others. These abnormalities can often be corrected with a minor, in office procedure. Gingival contouring or surgical crown lengthening routinely yields immediate and positive results, with minimal to no downtime. Talk to your dentists about your gums. They can do a quick evaluation and then if needed refer you to an oral surgeon for further evaluation.