Crown lengthening is a procedure that essentially makes a tooth appear longer. There are two situations in which crown lengthening is typically used…tooth restoration or “gummy smile” correction.
Crown Lengthening for Tooth Restoration
When a tooth breaks, or if there is severe decay, the remaining healthy tooth area is reduced and this can affect the potential for successful tooth restoration. With crown lengthening, more of the tooth’s surface will be exposed and this will help act as an anchor for future restorative work such as crowns, veneers, or more.
Your gums need at least 2mm of tooth surface area to bond with in order to prevent trapped foods and other potential problems. If part of a tooth is missing or if the decay is too deep, there might not be enough of a crown to work with. In situations like this, crown lengthening is used to recreate the required amount of exposed tooth so that restorative dental procedures will not weaken or fall off.
Crown Lengthening for Esthetics
You have probably seen people with what you would consider short teeth, or a “gummy” smile. While it may appear that their teeth are shorter than normal, it’s often just a case of teeth being hidden behind the gums. By repositioning the gum line, you can improve your smile and the contours of your face.
One of the major advantages of crown lengthening is that it can often be completed in one visit with a simple anesthetic. Essentially, the excessive gum tissue that is hiding your teeth is removed to expose the normal length of the tooth.
With crown lengthening, you’ll benefit from:
- Enhanced teeth that no longer look short or like “baby teeth”
- A much more attractive smile
- An improved self-image and more self-confidence
- A relatively quick healing period with little pain
- Visible results in as little as one week from surgery
Aside from the esthetic benefits of crown lengthening, correcting a “gummy” smile can also improve your overall periodontal health. When gum tissue does not recede normally as adult teeth appear, pockets can form in the gums, which can result in advanced periodontal disease. By contouring the gums through crown lengthening, you can not only improve the look and confidence of your smile, but also prevent future problems.
How Does Crown Lengthening Work?
Crown lengthening is a relatively common procedure and it can be done with a local anesthetic. Once the patient is numbed, a small incision will be made around the tooth or teeth needing crown lengthening. Once the incision is made, the extra gum tissue will be gently pulled away from the tooth so that the bone supporting the tooth is exposed.
After the gum tissue is peeled back, its position is contoured to form a better position on the tooth. The new gum line is then shaped to ensure that both sides look the same…from the molars on one side of the mouth to the molars on the other side so that the new smile is natural and even.
For most patients, crown lengthening won’t require any additional post-operative care and any slight pain can be easily managed with Ibuprofen. While crown lengthening patients can return to work and begin eating soft foods the day after surgery, full recovery of the gum tissue generally takes one or two weeks.