If you are concerned about excess gum tissue or an uneven gum line, crown lengthening and gum contouring are minimally invasive periodontal procedures that can improve the balance of your gums and teeth, creating a well-proportioned and symmetrical smile.
Crown lengthening, also known as a gum lift, is a procedure frequently used to treat a “gummy smile.” When excess gum tissue covers more of the teeth than is typical, teeth appear shorter and smaller. During a gum lift, small areas of excess tissue are removed to reveal more of the tooth’s structure, making teeth look longer and more proportional.
Like crown lengthening, gum contouring is a common cosmetic surgical procedure. An uneven gum line can cause one or more teeth to appear misshapen or shorter than the rest, producing a “crooked smile.” Gum contouring aesthetically reshapes the gum tissue for a natural-looking, even gum line.
These procedures are also used in dental restorations. If needed, crown lengthening can provide sufficient tooth surface for the application of veneers. When teeth have suffered injuries or serious decay near the gum line, a gum lift, or gum contouring can expose enough of the remaining tooth to support a crown. Contouring can be used with gum grafting to restore a gum line damaged by periodontal disease.
Both crown lengthening and gum contouring are common outpatient procedures performed in your dentist’s office.
- Your dentist will take a health history and assess your teeth, gums, and bone health, since gum disease or decay need to be treated before the procedure. You’ll discuss the outcome you desire and what to expect during and after surgery.
- Before the dentist begins your procedure, local anesthetic will be used to numb the area. Sedation is also an option.
- Your dentist will use hand-held tools or a laser to remove excess gum tissue. If necessary, a small amount of bone tissue around the tooth might be reshaped as well.
- The gum tissue will be shaped, or contoured, around the base of the tooth or teeth to create an even, attractive gum line. Some small sutures might be needed to close, and a dressing applied.
- You’ll be given directions for follow-up care to reduce swelling and bleeding, as well as instructions for how to brush, what to eat, and what to avoid as you heal. Your dentist might also prescribe antibiotics, an oral rinse, or pain medication.
- Complete healing will take several months. You’ll have follow-up appointments with your dentist to monitor your recovery.
If you’re unhappy with your smile’s appearance because of excess or uneven gum tissue, talk to your dentist. Learn how crown lengthening and gum contouring can create an attractive gum line that works in harmony with your teeth and lips for a beautifully proportioned smile.