Crown Lengthening

Do you feel like you have a “gummy smile” or that your teeth are too short? If so, crown lengthening may be the procedure you need. Our team of surgeons at Orange Periodontics and Dental Implantology, comprising of Dr. Richard K. Parris, Dr. Sepi Lee, and Dr. Cliff Lee are well trained to perform crown lengthening surgery in a manner that minimizes post-operative pain and discomfort while maximizing results.

What is crown lengthening?

Crown lengthening surgery can typically be divided into two categories: functional and esthetic. Functional crown lengthening is a type of surgery where more tooth structure is exposed in order for a restoration to be adequately placed on the tooth. Esthetic crown lengthening is a type of cosmetic surgery to treat certain “gummy smiles.”

Functional crown lengthening

Most of our teeth are anchored inside our jaw bone, which is then covered by gum tissue. Normally when the teeth encounter problems, such as chipping or tooth decay (“cavities”), it happens in the already exposed tooth structure, also called the anatomical crown. This means that the dentist can restore the tooth with fillings or a fabricated crown because they have access to the problem areas. However, sometimes the tooth fractures or decays underneath the gums where the dentist does not have access to fix, or the tooth structure is not adequate to support a fabricated crown, then crown lengthening surgery is needed.

During the crown lengthening procedure, the tooth, gums, and bone will be numbed with local anesthetic so you will not feel any pain during the procedure. Some bone and gum are removed in order to expose the amount of tooth structure needed. Everything is stitched up, and allowed to heal for a few weeks before the final restoration is completed.

Gummy smile treatment

Gingival overgrowth:
Too much gums covering lower teeth
Gingival overgrowth:
Too much gums covering lower teeth

Esthetic crown lengthening is a cosmetic procedure to treat certain gummy smiles. Gummy smiles can be caused by different reasons; one of the most common reasons is a phenomenon called “altered passive” or “altered active” eruption. Basically what happens is that the gum tissue and sometimes the underlying bone did not migrate properly when your teeth were growing out. This means that there is an excess of gum and bone covering your teeth, making them look shorter and wider.

Lower teeth uncovered after crown lengthening
Lower teeth uncovered after crown lengthening

To treat the gummy smile, your teeth, gums, and bone will be numbed with local anesthetic so you will not feel any pain during the procedure. Gum and bone are removed until the desired tooth form is achieved. Often times, these procedures are done in conjunction with veneers or orthodontics to maximize the esthetic results.

Follow up / post-operative care

Because crown lengthening is a surgical procedure, there is some discomfort to be expected. However, we do our best during and after the surgery to minimize post-operative soreness. Following the post-operative instructions will help you have a smooth healing process.