Surgical Crown Lengthening
Excessive or bulky gums can certainly make your teeth look too small and your smile too “gummy.” A gummy smile is more than just a cosmetic concern. It can also create serious functional and mechanical complications when it comes to common dental restorations such as dental crowns, veneers, and bridges. To ensure that these restorations fit well and look natural, it is often necessary to surgically reduce the height of the gum tissue and bone around one tooth or several teeth. As the name implies, this procedure lengthens the crown, or the portion of the tooth that can be seen above the gum line.
Crowns are tooth-shaped caps that fit over a natural tooth for aesthetic or structural reasons. A crown may be recommended when a tooth is cracked, broken, or misshapen. A crown can also be used to complete dental procedures, such as bridges, root canals, and dental implants. Crowns must be able to firmly affix to an existing tooth. This is where crown lengthening can help. Dental surgeons perform crown lengthening by recontouring gum tissue, and sometimes bone, to expose more of a tooth’s surface for a crown. It’s a common procedure and often takes less than an hour to complete.
Crown lengthening can be necessary if there isn’t enough of the tooth in place to hold the crown on its own. Teeth that are broken or affected by tooth decay may prohibit a crown from firmly attaching.
Crown lengthening reduces gum tissue and shaves down bone when necessary so more of the tooth is above the gum’s surface. A properly fitted crown allows for better oral hygiene and comfort.
Some people seek crown lengthening to alter a “gummy smile,” in which the gums are visible above the teeth when smiling.