Oftentimes a smile that shows too much gum tissue makes teeth appear too small for your mouth. Most of us have substantial tooth structure, we just don’t see enough of it to have the full effect of the whole tooth. This exposure of tooth structure through tissue and or gum removal is called crown lengthening. A well trained cosmetic dentist can use crown lengthening (also called a gum lift) to beautify your smile by allowing you visibility of more natural tooth structure. There are other uses for crown lengthening as well.
What Is Crown Lengthening?
Crown lengthening has multiple uses but has gained popularity as a cosmetic procedure. Crown lengthening can be used to remove bone and/or gum tissue from surrounding teeth. From a cosmetic standpoint, the reshaping of uneven gum tissue can make teeth appear more even without the need for braces or veneers. If tooth decay or fractures fall under the gum line, it is necessary to remove bone to allow for better access and support for a dental restoration such as a crown.
What Does The Crown Lengthening Procedure Involve?
Crown lengthening is actually a very simple procedure that gives dramatic results. The procedure is performed under local anesthesia. Following numbing of the area, the dentist will begin to remove the excess gum tissue. For most procedures only gum tissue will need to be removed and generally healing does not involve stitches. In others a small amount of bone will also need to be removed. Following completion, the gum tissue is stitched back together to allow for a speedy healing process.
Crown Lengthening Advantages
-One Time Procedure. A major advantage to crown lengthening is that it only needs to be completed once. No follow up is needed.
-Increased Dental Hygiene Access. With more tooth exposed dental hygiene can be completed even easier. With more tooth exposed it will be easier to keep your teeth clean.
-Speed. The entire procedure takes about 30-60 minutes with dramatic results following initial healing over the next 7-10 days.
Crown Lengthening Disadvantages
-Surgical Considerations. As with any surgery, the risks include pain, swelling, excessive bleeding, and possible infection. If you are in good health, do not require medication, and have good oral hygiene, risks are generally minimal.
-Recovery. Initial healing is fast, you should see your tissue looking better in a few days. Normal recovery should take 2-8 weeks. Tissue healing takes a few weeks while bone healing takes almost 2 months.
-Price. Cost is always a factor but dental insurance often picks up part of the price if there is periodontal pocketing or inadequate tooth structure to prepare for a crown. Photos, xrays, and periodontal charting are usually required for preauthorization.
Crown Lengthening Recovery
When your crown lengthening procedure is completed, you may be given a prescription for a pain reliever. You may also be advised to use ice to reduce any swelling. There may be dietary restrictions. You can expect to return to the dental office in 7-10 days to evaluate healing and to remove the stitches if they were placed.
When healing is complete, you may move onto other cosmetic or restorative dentistry procedures. These may include crowns, bridges, or porcelain veneers. It is important for full healing to take place before proceeding to other treatment. A healthy foundation makes for a stable platform for dental restorations.
Crown Lengthening Conclusion
Sometimes, a relatively simple procedure can save you from much more extensive treatment or loss of an otherwise unrestorable tooth. It is important to see a well qualified cosmetic dentist or periodontist to have your smile evaluated to see if the treatment is right for you.