Modern advances in dental science have made it easier than ever before for individuals to help achieve the picture perfect smile that they’ve always wanted. Cosmetic dentistry makes it so that you can fix everything from gaps in the teeth to uneven teeth. Perhaps one of the most common dental conditions that people attempt to have fixed is a “gummy” smile. This is simply ones of those types of smiles where more of the gums are exposed than the natural tooth. Fortunately, there is a process that makes it so that dentists can address this aesthetic issue.
What Is Crown Lengthening?
Crown lengthening is the name of the process used to reshape the gum tissue in order to expose more of the natural tooth. The reshaping can be done by removing gum tissue, some of the bone or a combination of both. The type of dentist who conducts this type of procedure is known as a periodontist, which is a dentist that specializes in surgical procedures like this. The approach that the periodontist takes to help lengthen the amount of tooth shown depends upon each individual’s specific case. During the crown lengthening process, a crown is placed over the natural tooth to help improve the natural appearance of the tooth and cover up more of the gum line, but in order to do this, the periodontist must expose more of the actual tooth so that the crown will fit sufficiently over it. In other cases, periodontists need to conduct crown lengthening in order to place a filling. Regardless of the reason why a patient wants to undergo crown lengthening, whether it is to even out the gum line or have a filling placed, the basic process is the same.
How Crown Lengthening Is Done
The first step of the crown lengthening process consists of the dentist taking a series of X-rays. He or she will also review your medical history to determine whether or not you are an ideal candidate for surgery since a local anesthesia will have to be administered. In some cases, the periodontist will even have your teeth professionally cleaned before surgery if there is substantial plaque and other matter on them.
Once the initial preparation has been done, then the periodontist can conduct the actual surgical procedure. During surgery, the periodontist will administer tiny cuts to the gums in order to expose more of the natural tooth. In some cases, a few tiny cuts are all that are needed to expose enough of the natural tooth, but even in cases when only one tooth needs to be lengthened, the periodontist usually has to remove gum from surrounding teeth as well in order to keep the gum line even in appearance. In some more severe cases or if the patient is having the entire gum line lengthened in order to create a broad and even smile, the periodontist might have to remove some of the bone as well as gum tissue.
The entire amount of time that it takes to conduct the procedure depends upon the number of teeth that need to be lengthened as well as whether or not bone needs to be removed as well. Typically, if both bone and gum tissue needs to be removed, the surgery will take longer, as will the healing process. Regardless of whether just tissue or bone are removed, once the removal and reshaping process is complete, the periodontist will then sterilize the newly opened area and then close it up with stitches. Sometimes bandages are placed over the stitches, although all periodontists don’t choose to do this if they deem the bandages unnecessary.
Caring for the Gums After Crown Lengthening
Following crown lengthening, periodontists will prescribe patients with a pain medication and give them a dental rinse that they’ll be instructed on how frequently to use. Patients will usually be advised to follow a soft diet and to brush the teeth but to avoid the stitched area. It’s also recommended that patients ice the area in order to reduce swelling. The entire healing process can take as much as three months, but most patients will have their stitches removed approximately a week after surgery.
American Association of Periodontology. “Dental Crown Lengthening Procedure.” Retrieved on May 16, 2016, from https://www.perio.org/consumer/dental-crown-lenghthening.htm.
Colgate. “Crown Lengthening.” Retrieved on May 16, 2016, from http://www.colgate.com/en/us/oc/oral-health/conditions/gum-disease/article/crown-lengthening.
American Academy of Periodontology
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