If you have too much pink in your smile, you probably have an excessive gingival display, otherwise known as a “gummy” smile. Around 10% of the population has this aesthetically unappealing dental condition, affecting women slightly more than men. Fortunately, dental procedures like crown lengthening reduce unsightly gum lines for an upgraded smile you’ll love to show off.
Lengthening your front teeth isn’t the only reason for seeking crown lengthening. Cracked and chipped front teeth benefit from this procedure because it saves existing teeth from further damage and decay. Although crown lengthening is a surgical procedure, it usually takes an hour or less.
Crown Lengthening Defined
In dental procedures, crown lengthening provides aesthetic appeal and motivation for oral hygiene. Like all other crowns, the underlying teeth must be strong enough to support the crowns. Consequently, a face crown for a front tooth must perform differently from a crown placed on a molar.
If you care enough to worry about what your smile looks like in the mirror, you’ll also want to do things that improve your smile. Oral hygiene motivation comes from keeping your front teeth clean and healthy so that the face crown doesn’t fail. Crown lengthening is a specialized cap designed to expose more teeth and decrease how much gum shows when you smile.
What You Should Know Before Crown Lengthening
Crown lengthening requires special skills to re-contour gum lines and even shave bone if necessary. That said, you should know the cause of your excessive gingival display so that we know how to proceed with the right treatment. Common causes include:
- Altered passive eruption – Caused by abnormal teeth growth, this condition is often genetic. It happens when the gum grows too far over the teeth causing “short teeth.”
- Excessive grinding and teeth clenching – Sometimes, front teeth can wear down because of bruxism.
- Irritated gums and braces – If you notice too much gum after getting your braces off, you probably had short teeth before getting orthodontic work done. Patients get braces to improve their smiles, so crown lengthening after the braces come off is a common next step if there is too much gum line.
- Skeleton problems – In less common cases, gummy smiles are caused by skeletal issues, with treatments beyond a periodontist’s or oral surgeon’s expertise. This should be determined before undergoing crown lengthening. A separate surgical procedure can be completed, but it’s outside the scope of a dental professional.
As you prepare for crown lengthening for your gummy smile, your dental history outlines anything that applies to the current procedure.
Other Conditions that Require Crown Lengthening
This is a surgical procedure that might catch some people by surprise if their dentist recommends it. Notably, patients don’t associate crown lengthening with healthy living. This procedure helps anyone with front teeth that don’t work as they should. For example, front teeth can crack and chip, weakening your teeth and forcing you to eat differently, putting unnecessary wear on other teeth.
When you fix your front teeth, you reduce the risk of decay and potential tooth loss. Waiting too long increases the risks of later complications, which is why your dentist might recommend crown lengthening for your front teeth. They see a bigger picture of oral hygiene to overall health. Crown lengthening usually takes about an hour and can be done as an outpatient with little risk.
Crown Lengthening Initial Consultation
At the first visit, patients should discuss with us all the steps for completing the procedure. Always ask questions, so you aren’t surprised during and after the procedure. Tell us about specific medications you already take just in case of conflict. When you are ready, we will tell you about your options, including crown lengthening. The more information you offer about your dental and medical histories, the happier you’ll be with the end results.
Crown Lengthening has an aesthetic purpose, making the look of the crown essential to patient satisfaction and something that should not be rushed. The patient should be able to approve the color shade the crown puts into their mouths. The shade must match the existing teeth perfectly or risk an abnormally looking smile.
What to Expect During the Procedure
You’ll receive a local shot to numb the pain. Sometimes we will provide a mild sedative for more comfort. For many, the first shot of novocaine hurts the most. We make an incision and fold back the gums to expose the roots and bone. In many cases, this is all that’s needed to fix a gummy smile. In other cases, there isn’t enough tooth for lengthening, which is why a crown is very useful.
The doctor prepares the tooth for the crown, adjusting the gum tissue to reveal a larger portion of the crowned tooth. Sometimes, you may need to give the bone and roots time to heal before attaching the final crown. For example, it isn’t uncommon to receive stitches inside your mouth at the gum line. In these cases, you’ll need to keep the sutures clean. In these cases, the doctor attaches a temporary crown until your next appointment, when you finally see your brand-new smile.
After the crown lengthening procedure, taking care of yourself is crucial for post-care. Get used to a regular routine of mouth washing and cleansing. While healing can take up to three months, you can resume normal activities after three days. If you need stitches in your gums, you’ll need to be extra careful about infection and don’t do any strenuous activity for three days. Your teeth might be sensitive to cold and hot temperatures, but this should ease with time.
Long Term Care
Dental crowns aren’t permanent and have an average lifespan of around fifteen years. However, you’ll likely get more years out of your crowns with careful oral hygiene. Thankfully, most insurances pay for replacement if they fail after five years.
Contact us to schedule an appointment for crown lengthening today!