Crown lengthening is usually performed to improve the health of the gum tissue, prepare the mouth for a procedure such as a crown, 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 procedure involves reshaping or recontouring the gum tissue and bone around the tooth in question to create a new gum-to–tooth relationship. Crown lengthening can be performed on a single tooth, many teeth, or the entire gum line.
Crown lengthening is often required when your tooth needs a new crown or other restoration. The edge of that restoration is deep below the gum tissue and not immediately accessible. It is also usually too close to the bone or below the bone.
Crown lengthening allows your dentist to establish the edge of your crown in a healthy location. This allows you to clean the edge of the restoration when you brush and floss to prevent decay and gum disease. It should also provide enough tooth structure so the new restoration will not come loose in the future.
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 reshaping. In some cases, extraction of a small amount of bone will be necessary as well.
Sutures and 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 evaluate your healing.