Aesthetic and Functional Crown Lengthening

Crown lengthening is a periodontal procedure where gum tissue and/or the bone surrounding a tooth or teeth is removed in order to expose more of the crown (the visible portion of the tooth). In this blog, Dr. Steven Lieber and Dr. Jessica Stilley will explain both the aesthetic and functional needs for the surgery.

Aesthetic Crown Lengthening

An excessive display of gum tissue when smiling is often referred to as a “gummy smile.”  The teeth look short and stubby as a result of the gum tissue partly covering the teeth, due to either genetics, gum inflammation, or gingivitis.

During a gum reduction surgery, excess gum tissue is removed to change the outline of the gums and improve the gum-line. Exposing the teeth helps create a fuller, more symmetrical, or more attractive smile and can allow future improvements such as veneers or crowns which further improve the smile.

Functional Crown Lengthening

When a damaged tooth is covered by excessive gum tissue, functional crown lengthening is performed to access the area that needs to be treated. For instance, if there is a cavity below the gum line, a crown lengthening procedure can uncover the problematic area so a filling can be placed. Sometimes, excess tissue gets in the way of an existing crown, causing it to become unstable. A fractured tooth that requires a new crown also requires the proper amount of tooth exposure. Functional crown lengthening gently removes gum tissue, uncovering more tooth structure so the crown can be successfully bonded into place.

Dr. Steven Lieber adds, “The process of crown lengthening is the same for aesthetic or functional purposes. The results have dramatically improved results.” In most cases, patients will have some discomfort for 2-3 days following their crown lengthening surgery; but, this can be managed with anti-inflammatory oral pain medication.


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