What Is Crown Lengthening?
Crown lengthening is performed to improve the health of a patient’s gum tissue, prepare the mouth for a restorative crown or bridge, or, often, to correct what is referred to as a “gummy” smile.
Fixing a “Gummy” Smile
A “gummy” smile is a term used to describe any instance where excess gum tissue has grown up to cover some or most of a person’s teeth. This results in a less aesthetically-pleasing smile, often making the teeth look too small.
Crown lengthening involves reshaping or recontouring the gum tissue and bone around the affected teeth, creating a new gum-to-tooth relationship. Crown lengthening can be performed on a single tooth, many teeth, or even the entire gum line.
Crown Lengthening for Restorations
The crown lengthening procedure is often required when your tooth needs a new crown or other type of restoration. The edge of the old restoration can be deep below the gum tissue, especially with dental crowns, and it is not immediately accessible for a new restorative. It is also often too close to the bone or, in some cases, below the bone.
Crown lengthening allows periodontists to reach the edge of the restoration to ensure a proper fit for the new restoration. It also provides enough tooth structure so the new restoration won’t loosen in the future, and allows you to clean the edge of the restoration when you brush and floss to prevent decay and gum disease.
What to Expect
Crown lengthening takes approximately one hour, but largely depends on the amount of teeth involved and if any bone will need to be removed. The procedure is typically performed under local anesthetic and involves a series of small incisions around the gum tissue to separate the gums from the teeth. Even if only a single tooth needs the procedure, however, it still is necessary to adjust the surrounding teeth and possibly surrounding bone.
When Dr. Cristoforo is satisfied that the teeth have sufficient exposure and that the crown lengthening procedure is complete, the gum tissues will be molded into place. Sutures and a protective bandage will also be placed to help secure the new gum-to-tooth relationship. The teeth will look noticeably longer right after the procedure as the gums have been repositioned. Patients will need to be seen in one or two weeks following the surgery to remove the sutures and to evaluate your healing process. The surgical site should be completely healed in approximately two to three months.