Our periodontists perform crown lengthening to improve the health of the gum tissue, prepare the mouth for a procedure, or correct a “gummy smile”. A “gummy smile” is when teeth are covered with excess gum tissue and/or bone. The procedure involves reshaping or recontouring the gum tissue and bone around the teeth to create a new gum-to-tooth relationship. Crown lengthening can reshape the area around a single tooth, many teeth, or the entire gum line.
Doctors require crown lengthening when your tooth needs a new crown or other restoration but accessibility is a problem. For example, the dividing line between the healthy tooth and the damaged tooth is below the gum line or just below the bone. Another example is when a tooth breaks below the gum line.
Crown lengthening allows us to reach the dividing line of the restoration, ensuring a proper fit to the tooth. It should also provide enough tooth structure so the new restoration will not come loose in the future. This allows you to clean the edge of the restoration when you brush and floss to prevent decay and gum disease.
Crown lengthening takes approximately one hour but will largely depend on the number of teeth involved and if any amount of bone needs removal. The procedure requires only a local anesthetic and involves a series of small incisions around the tissue to separate the gums from the teeth. If only one tooth requires the procedure, it may still be necessary to adjust the surrounding teeth to enable a more even reshaping. In some cases, extraction of a small amount of bone will be necessary as well.
When Dr. Markle or Dr. Herman is satisfied that the teeth have sufficient exposure, the incisions are cleaned with sterile water. The doctor sutures the area and places a protective bandage over it to help secure the new gum-to-tooth relationship. Your teeth will look noticeably longer immediately after surgery. The doctor will need to see you one or two weeks after surgery to remove the sutures and evaluate your healing. The surgical site should completely heal in approximately two to three months following the procedure.
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