Crown lengthening is a procedure that involves trimming the gum tissue and often recontouring the bone. This is used to crown a broken/decayed tooth, to improve the health of the gum tissue, or to improve the esthetic look of a tooth as when we correct a “gummy smile”. A “gummy smile” is where teeth are covered with excess gum tissue resulting in a less than esthetically-pleasing smile or an area that is difficult to clean without the procedure. The procedure involves trimming or reshaping or recontouring the gum tissue and bone around the tooth or teeth to create gum and bone contours that are better looking, easier to clean and/or allow final crownwork to be made. Crown lengthening can be performed on a single tooth, many teeth, or the gum tissue on all teeth needing it.
Crown lengthening is often required when your tooth/teeth have had so much decay, or have fractured and need new crown(s). The edge of a crown should be at or just below the gum line and if it is too deep below the gum tissue is extremely difficult for your dentist to make the crown and for you to keep it clean. Crown lengthening allows your restorative dentist to build the crown, ensuring a proper fit to the tooth. It will 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.
The procedure is with performed with local anesthetic and we often find that patients prefer sedation to be comfortable. Dr Kammeyer finds it is easier to do his best work when patients are very relaxed. If one tooth requires crown lengthening, it will probably be necessary to adjust the surrounding teeth to enable a more even reshaping. In some cases, shaping or removal of a small amount of bone will be necessary as well.
When Dr. Kammeyer is satisfied that the teeth have sufficient exposure and the procedure is completed, it will take several months for the gum tissue and the bone to adapt to their new shape. Teeth will always look noticeably longer after surgery because the gums have now been repositioned. Teeth that have had crown lengthening can be sensitive to temperatures until their have the final crown(s) made.
Today, we do less crown lengthening than in the past era of “save a tooth at all costs”. This choice depends on your expectations of what outlook you want for your teeth and the condition under consideration. We have often found that a dental implant provides a more predictable solution to many situations and this determination is typically made under advisement of both the restoring dentist and the surgeon.