Crown lengthening is a common surgical dental procedure that increases the amount of tooth on show by removing some of the gum or gingival tissue. It is often used to treat a condition known as a ‘gummy smile’ – which occurs when there is more gum tissue than teeth on show when you smile.
Some people describe this condition as having teeth that are short, and in some cases it can also be caused if your teeth are very worn. It can also be used if you require a filling or a crown, but there is not enough of the existing tooth below the gum line for treatment to be possible.
The procedure of crown lengthening involves removing and reshaping any excess gum tissue and bone to expose more of your natural teeth. The procedure can be performed on one tooth or on several teeth, depending on your needs.
Crown lengthening can only be carried out by a periodontist, a dentist who specialises in working with the gums and soft tissues supporting the teeth. Your periodontist will take a full dental and medical history at your first consultation and will provide you with a treatment plan.
The procedure is carried out under local anaesthesia (very nervous patients should talk to their periodontist about sedation options if this is a major concern). Your periodontist will make cuts in the gums to pull them away from the roots of the teeth and the bones around them. They will remove any excess tissue and bone and will place some stitches in your mouth. Any discomfort after surgery can be minimised by using over-the-counter painkillers, special mouthwash and by sticking to a soft food diet for the first few days. If your face is swollen you can also use an ice pack.