Reasons For Crown Lengthening Procedures

Posted on Mar 21, 2016 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

As a Periodontist, my specialty surrounds the treatment of all stages of gum disease and the placement of Dental Implants, for the most part. However, another focus of the periodontal specialty is in the recontouring of gum tissues.

In some cases, this is done to provide cosmetic enhancement to the appearance of a smile. For example, crown lengthening is often performed to correct an uneven smile line. This occurs when there are varying levels of gum tissue arching each tooth. This uneven line of gum tissue leaves an up-&-down frame for teeth most visible in a smile. Even straight teeth look less attractive with uneven gum arches. By contouring the gums to provide a unified border over teeth, crown lengthening provides a more appealing smile overall.

Another esthetic reason for crown lengthening is to repair a ‘gummy smile.’ A gummy smile is one that shows too much gum tissue above the teeth. While this is a genetic trait and is not related to an oral health issue, some people with a gummy smile feel self-conscious when smiling a full smile and tend to ‘hold back.’ In some cases, excess gum tissue can be corrected by careful removal while others may require crowning involved teeth. Crowns ensure the gums can be contoured to a more natural level without compromising the future health of teeth.

Katie Couric - a famous 'gummy smile.'

Katie Couric – a famous ‘gummy smile.’

There are other reasons for crown lengthening, such as helping to save a tooth from removal. For example, when a tooth has broken close to the gum line, crown lengthening procedures can remove gum tissue to expose more of the tooth. Because a tooth that breaks at the gum line must be removed, this procedure can make sufficient tooth structure available to support a crown. Saving a tooth can keep the patient from having to deal with the decisions of tooth replacement and associated costs.

Crown lengthening is also beneficial in sealing gum tissues surrounding a tooth at its base. This is important after a new crown is placed as it prevents bacteria from penetrating the gums during the vulnerable stage of attaching. By securing the gum tissue around the crown, bacterial entry is avoided and the risk for periodontal (gum) disease decreased.

The crown lengthening procedure is clinically referred to as a Gingivectomy. It is performed with the patient sedated and comfortable. Some swelling and gum tenderness may follow, although most patients only require over-the-counter medications. If you smoke, you can expect the healing period to take longer since the chemicals in tobacco have drying effects on gum tissues. However, most patients are back to normal within several weeks with the beautiful look that crown lengthening provides.

If gum recontouring could provide a more appealing smile, the results of crown lengthening, in many cases, are significant. However, when crown lengthening can save a tooth or help to prevent gum disease, from a Periodontists’ point of view, the advantages are priceless!

Begin with a consultation to discuss creating the smile you desire. Call 828-274-9440 to schedule.


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