Crown lengthening, or gum lifting, is a surgical periodontal treatment that is used to expose additional tooth structure. It can be done either for functional purposes (as in a case where a tooth has broken close to the gumline) or for esthetic purposes (in the case of excess gum tissue, often referred to as a “gummy smile”).
Functional Crown Lengthening
If you have experienced significant tooth decay or trauma to the point where the tooth is lacking proper shape or has considerable damage, functional crown lengthening may allow us to save a tooth and restore it instead of removing it and replacing it.
This procedure involves adjusting and positioning the level of the gum and bone tissue around the tooth in a specific way to allow for a proper relationship with the restoration. It also ensures an optimal fit and retention for a longer-lasting restoration that fits well among your other teeth and matches properly with your biting surface. Preserving appropriate bite alignment is always one of our goals because a misaligned bite can lead to additional problems.
Without the crown lengthening procedure, the edge of the restoration would be too close to the gum and bone tissue, which will result in chronic inflammation and most likely lead to the loss of both gum and bone tissue.
Should the Tooth Be Saved or Replaced?
Many patients wonder why we would want to make the effort to save the tooth when multiple tooth replacement options are available. If possible, it is almost always better to retain your own tooth – particularly the roots.
The roots of your teeth serve an important purpose. In addition to holding your tooth in place, they also maintain a connection with your periodontal bone structure and stimulate it to constantly maintain itself. Without the roots of your teeth, the bone will begin to deteriorate, setting off a chain reaction that is likely to result in further tooth loss.
Esthetic Crown Lengthening
Crown lengthening can also be done for cosmetic purposes. If you struggle with excess gum tissue and feel self-conscious about the appearance of your smile, you might avoid smiling. Not only can this affect your overall outlook on life, it can also give other people the impression that you are unfriendly or unhappy – and you might lose out on several of life’s opportunities.
Crown lengthening removes this excess tissue and gives you a more attractive, even gum line so that you can smile with confidence and know that you are projecting your true image to the world.
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