Gummy Smile Treatment
Houston Dental Implant & Cosmetic Center
What is it used for?
Crown lengthening is done when a tooth needs to be restored, but there is not enough tooth structure above the gum line to support a filling or a crown.
This can happen when a tooth breaks off at the gum line, or a crown or filling falls out of a tooth that has extensive decay underneath. If your dentist wants to repair the tooth using a crown or a large filling, he or she may need to expose more of the tooth by removing some soft tissue or bone.
Crown lengthening is also frequently used to support cosmetic dental procedures. It is especially useful in cases where the gum extends too far down the length of the teeth causing them to appear unnaturally (gummy smile) short. This can also increase their vulnerability to periodontal disease. Removal of this “extra” gum tissue can restore a natural look and thus improve a smile.
Gummy Smile FAQs
How is it done?
We will make incisions to “flap” the gums away from the teeth. This provides access to the roots of the teeth and the surrounding bone. In some cases, by simply removing a little gum tissue when the incisions are made, enough tooth structure will be exposed for us to place a crown or filling.
However, in most situations it will also be necessary for us to remove some bone from around the roots of the teeth. The bone is removed using a combination of hand instruments (resembling chisels) and rotary instruments (similar to the drill and burs used to treat cavities).
Once we are satisfied that enough tooth structure is exposed, the surgical area will be washed with sterile salt water and the flaps will be stitched together. At this point, your teeth will look longer because the gums are now sitting at a lower level than before the surgery. Sometimes we use a periodontal dressing (called an intraoral bandage) to cover the surgical site.
Any temporary crowns will be removed before the procedure begins and replaced afterwards.
You will be given prescriptions for pain medication and a chlorhexidine mouth rinse. We will review oral-hygiene instructions, and ask you to follow a somewhat soft diet. You can brush the teeth in the area that was worked on, but you should avoid the gums. You can remove food particles around the affected teeth with a toothpick or a water irrigator.
Is there a follow-up?
Is there any risk?
Because of the tissue and bone removal, the affected tooth may look longer than adjacent teeth. However, this is only a cosmetic consideration. Removing bone from around a tooth can loosen it. In addition, if the tooth is ever lost, the removal of bone could reduce the chances of successfully placing a dental implant in that area. We will consider these details during your consultation.