Modern dental technology allows almost anyone to enjoy a more beautiful smile. One procedure that is intended to do just that is esthetic crown lengthening. This multi-step process enables the patient to enjoy all the benefits of a more beautiful smile, along with better overall dental health. If you’re considering crown lengthening either for yourself or a family member, it will help you to know more about the procedure, as well as who are good candidates for the treatment. That’s why we’ve compiled this article about esthetic crown lengthening, the age of the patient and whether it matters.
About the Procedure
Crown lengthening is typically performed by a dentist, a periodontist, or an oral surgeon. The process is intended to improve the appearance of the patient’s smile, as well as restore the person to good overall oral health. People with “gummy smiles” – in other words, people whose gum tissue extends too far down the surface of their front teeth – are usually good candidates for crown lengthening. The process begins with the dentist using a laser to remove excess gum tissue from the surface of the front teeth. Years ago, this could only be accomplished with a scalpel, but most dentists today use a specially designed laser to contour the gums. This reduces the amount of time required for the procedure, lessens the amount of bleeding, and cuts down on the recovery time for the patient. But gum contouring is only the first step in the crown lengthening process.
Once the excess gum tissue is removed from the tooth surface, the dentist or oral surgeon takes steps to reshape the surface of the front teeth. If these teeth are damaged or decayed, the dentist takes whatever steps necessary to resolve those issues. Whether they are damaged or not, the reshaping of these teeth often involves affixing either a crown or a porcelain veneer to the affected teeth. The result is a smile that is both healthy and absolutely stunning!
The Age of the Patient
Crown lengthening can be an appropriate treatment for patients of all ages. If you have a “gummy smile,” you can have that issue resolved with crown lengthening no matter how old (or young) you might be. But there are two age groups that can benefit from the procedure for different reasons: teenagers and the elderly. In the following discussion, we’ll explore why each of these age groups are particularly suited for crown lengthening.
- Seniors: It’s an unfortunate truth – tooth decay can happen at any age. In fact, believe it or not senior adults are very susceptible to cavities. And often, because so many elderly people have receding gums, those cavities form below the gum line. This means that the dentist isn’t able to fill the cavity as he or she usually would, and that a portion of the gum tissue needs to be removed in order to access the decayed part of the tooth. In these instances, crown lengthening becomes less of a cosmetic procedure and more of a necessity in order to repair the tooth. In most cases, the dentist or oral surgeon will create a tiny flap in the gum tissue, move the gums out of the way to expose the area of the tooth where the decays exists, then remove the decay and either fill the tooth or affix a crown to the affected tooth. Afterwards, the dentist repositions the gum tissue and sutures it in place to allow it to heal properly.
- Teens: Dentists may also recommend that teens undergo crown lengthening for the same reasons as other age groups – to treat a cavity below the gum line, to repair a damaged tooth concealed by gum tissue, or to resolve a “gummy smile” and allow the young patient to enjoy all the benefits of a more attractive smile. We’ve already discussed the steps involved in repairing damaged teeth below the gum line, but let’s not underestimate the importance of cosmetic crown lengthening; particularly for teenagers. Numerous studies conducted over the past several years have shown that having an attractive smile improves a person’s self-esteem and self-confidence. But that’s only part of it. People with nice smiles are generally seen in a more positive light by other people. And, as we all know, teenagers are particularly susceptible to low self-esteem and especially affected by the opinions of their peers. That’s why repairing a “gummy smile” for a teen can most definitely improve their quality of life overall, and set them on a positive path as they enter into adulthood. The majority of the time, teens don’t require the flap surgery necessary for older adults. In most cases, crown lengthening for teens involves gum contouring with a laser, and then reshaping of the tooth surface underneath (usually including affixing crowns or porcelain veneers to the affected teeth). The results are a dramatically improved smile. And for a teen, that adds up to increased self-confidence and self-esteem!
Whether you’re a teenager, a middle-aged adult, or a senior citizen, it’s important to remember that it takes some time to recover from the crown lengthening procedure. The exact time required will depend on the extent of the surgery and the age of the patient (teens tend to heal quicker than seniors, for example). So be prepared to follow the instructions of your dentist in order to heal properly at home. The recovery time could take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. During that time, you’ll need to be cautious about the types of foods you eat and how you brush your teeth, for example. Your dentist will provide a full set of instructions to help you heal as quickly and efficiently as possible during your recovery period.
This multi-step procedure most definitely takes some time to recover from, but the vast majority of dental patients would say that it’s worth every minute! If you have dental issues that need to be resolved, or simply want to improve the appearance of your “gummy smile,” contact your dentist today to learn more about esthetic crown lengthening, the age of the patient and whether it matters. You could be just a phone call away from better oral health and a beautiful new smile!