If you have a “gummy” smile, your teeth may appear too short, but really, it could be because they are covered with too much gum tissue. A crown lengthening procedure may be able to improve this.
A crown lengthening procedure can be done to one tooth, several teeth, or even a whole gum line to expose a natural, broader smile. During the procedure, excess gum tissue and/or bone is reshaped or removed to expose more of the natural tooth.
In addition to cosmetic purposes, a crown lengthening procedure can be recommended to make a restorative procedure possible, such as a crown or bridge. Crown lengthening adjusts the gum and bone level, exposing more of the tooth so that there is more of it to work with during other dental procedures. It can also be performed in the treatment of gum disease, an inflammation of the gum line that can progress to affect the bone surrounding and supporting the teeth.
Before a crown lengthening procedure can be performed, a consultation with a periodontist will be needed to review your medical history and x-rays. A professional tooth cleaning may precede the surgery. Local anesthesia will be used to minimize any discomfort. Even if one tooth is the object of the treatment, in most cases, the neighboring teeth will be treated as well.
After the anesthesia has taken effect, the periodontist will make cuts into the gums, causing them to pull away from the teeth and exposing the roots of the teeth and surrounding bone. In some cases, only a small amount of gum tissue will have to be removed, but most of the time, the periodontist will need to remove some bone from around the roots of the tooth. Once enough of the tooth has become exposed, the surgical area will be washed with saline, and the gums will be stitched together. A bandage may be placed over the stitches to help keep them protected and encourage healing.
Following the procedure, you will receive prescriptions for a pain reliever and mouth rinse. You will be advised to keep to a mostly soft diet, and you’ll be allowed to brush the teeth near the stitches, but avoid the gums.
It may be helpful to apply ice to your face after surgery to help with any swelling. You will need to return to our office seven to ten days after the procedure to have the stitches removed, then again four to six weeks later for a follow-up visit.