Crown Lengthening – Esthetic and Functional

Ueno Center Dental Specialists in Campbell CA

Crown lengthening is usually performed to improve the health of the gum tissue, prepare the mouth for a procedure, or correct a “gummy smile”. A “gummy smile” is used to describe an instance where teeth are covered with excess gum tissue resulting in a less esthetically-pleasing smile. The esthetic crown lengthening procedure involves reshaping or recontouring the gum tissue and bone around the tooth in question to create a new gum-to–tooth relationship. Esthetic Crown lengthening can be performed on a single tooth, many teeth, or the entire gum line.  Following this procedure, your teeth will look noticeably longer and more esthetic as you will show more of your natural tooth structure!

Functional Crown lengthening is often required when your tooth needs a new crown or other restoration like a filling. If your tooth is cracked or has a deep cavity, the edge of the future restoration will be deep below the gum tissue and not immediately accessible by your general dentist. The restoration will also be too close to the bone which will cause a biologic issue called “invasion of biologic width.”  This is the compression of the gum tissue attachment by the margin of the new restoration being too close to the bone.  The gum tissue will appear red or purple and often bleed easily if this violation occurs.

Crown lengthening allows your general dentist to visualize and reach the edge 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 and will provide the adequate biologic principles to create the correct “biologic width.” 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 amount of teeth involved and if any amount of bone will need to be removed. The procedure is usually performed under local anesthetic and involves a series of small incisions around the tissue to separate the gums from the teeth. Even if only one tooth requires the procedure, it will probably be necessary to adjust the surrounding teeth to enable a more even and harmonious appearance of your gums. In some cases, the removal of a small amount of bone will be necessary as well.

When your doctor is satisfied that the teeth have sufficient exposure and the procedure is completed, the incisions will be cleaned with sterile water. Sutures and possibly a protective bandage are then placed to help secure the new gum-to-tooth relationship. Your teeth will look noticeably longer immediately after surgery because the gums have now been repositioned. You will need to be seen in one or two weeks to remove the sutures and evaluate your healing. The surgical site should be completely healed in approximately 2-3 months following the procedure at which time your general dentist can make you a new restoration.