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Esthetic Crown Lengthening Before and After: What to Expect

If you’ve never heard of crown lengthening, you may not even know what’s involved in the process, and the name may be a bit misleading. Crown lengthening is actually a procedure that involves removal of excess gum tissue and/or reshaping of bone tissue. Dental patients whose gum line extends too far down the surface of their front teeth experience a condition called a “gummy smile” – in other words, not enough of the tooth surface is exposed and the person appears to have shortened teeth. In reality, their teeth are normal-sized but the gums simply extend too far down the surface of the teeth. So where does the term “crown lengthening” come from? The crown of a tooth is that part that is visible above the gum line. So when a dentist or oral surgeon removes excess gum tissue and reshapes the tooth surface underneath, the procedure is called “crown lengthening.” If you’re considering having this procedure done, you’ve come to the right place! We’ve compiled the following information about esthetic crown lengthening before and after, and what you can expect.

Beautiful smile

Why People Choose Crown Lengthening

The majority of people who decide to undergo this procedure do so for cosmetic reasons — in other words, to enjoy a more attractive smile. But there could be other reasons for crown lengthening as well. When the gum line comes too far down the tooth surface, it could be hiding other dental issues that lie under the gum surface, such as decayed or broken/cracked teeth. Crown lengthening is also sometimes done to expose more of the tooth surface before the patient is fitted for a bridge. The procedure may involve applying crowns or porcelain veneers to further improve the appearance of the patient’s smile. The results of esthetic crown lengthening can be summed up in three words: a beautiful smile! Although periodontists (gum specialists) often perform crown lengthening, an increasing number of dentists are now performing the procedure as well.

What’s Involved in Crown Lengthening

The procedure involves the dentist removing gum tissue and reshaping existing bone structure to enhance the appearance of the patient’s smile. The process involved in removing gum tissue used to be somewhat invasive, requiring the dentist or periodontist to use a scalpel to remove the soft tissue and sutures to close the wound afterward. Thankfully, modern dental technology has made that portion of the crown lengthening procedure much less invasive than it once was. Now, most dentists use a specially designed laser to remove the tissue – a technological advancement that provides many benefits for both the dentist and the patient.

In addition to removal of excess gum tissue, crown lengthening also sometime involved reshaping of bone tissue to improve the length and/or the shape of the patient’s teeth. This is most often accomplished with either crowns or porcelain veneers. By the time the procedure is complete, the patient is left with a dramatically improved smile.

Preparing for the Procedure

As is the case with any dental procedure, crown lengthening may not be the right choice for everyone. Your dentist or periodontist will assess your oral health and tell you whether or not you are a good candidate. You’ll need to have healthy gum tissue and be in good health overall before your oral health care provider will perform the procedure. Once your dentist has decided that you’re a good candidate for crown lengthening, he or she will perform a pre-surgical analysis to identify the new location of your gum line and to determine which crown lengthening techniques will be required to achieve the optimal results.

The Crown Lengthening Procedure

The exact steps involved in the crown lengthening procedure vary from one patient to the next. People who require simple removal of excess gum tissue will need to undergo what is referred to as “gum contouring.” But typically a crown lengthening procedure involves not only removal of excess gum tissue, but also reshaping of the tooth surface. Generally speaking, some combination of the following techniques are involved in the crown lengthening procedure:

  • Removal of gum tissue (gingivectomy) – For people with gummy smiles, this is always part of the crown lengthening process. Most often, this part of the procedure is done with a laser, which not only reduces the amount of bleeding and discomfort for the patient, but also immediately cauterizes the wound, resulting in a much shorter healing time.
  • Apically repositioned flap surgery – Some patients may require flap surgery as part of the crown lengthening process. This involves the dentist or periodontist making an incision in the gums, creating a flap of tissue. That flap is then lifted to allow the surgeon to remove extra tissue and/or bone. Afterward, the flap is repositioned closer to the root of the tooth and sutures are used to hold the tissue in place while it heals.
  • Affixing crowns or porcelain veneers – If the surface of the tooth is misshaped or badly stained, for example, the final step in the crown lengthening procedure may be for the dentist or periodontist to affix crowns or porcelain veneers to the affected teeth after the excess gum tissue is removed or repositioned.

Recovering from the Procedure

Just as you might expect, the amount of time required to recover from the crown lengthening process varies depending on what steps are performed during the procedure. Your dentist will provide you with detailed instructions on how to care for the site of the surgery, as well as how long your recovery will take. Although there is typically some amount of discomfort during the recovery period, most patients can effectively treat that discomfort by following the recommendations of their dentist or periodontist. And, thanks to local anesthesia and dental sedation methods, most people feel no pain at all during the procedure itself.

If you’re curious about esthetic crown lengthening before and after, and what you can expect from your own procedure, schedule an appointment with your dentist today. Although the process does require some recovery time, most patients would agree that the end result is well worth the wait and that a beautiful smile can improve the quality of your life in ways you might never have imagined!