Like the people who flash them, smiles come in all shapes and sizes from that “just stepped off the runway Hollywood smile” to the mesmerizing “confident, nothing can stop me smile” to everything in between. Sometimes a smile is defined by the physical characteristics of your teeth and gums.
An estimated 10% to 29% of the population sports the type of smile called excessive gingival display or more commonly referred to as a gummy smile. As its name suggests the gummy smile is all about the gum line, and more specifically the appearance of more gum versus teeth.
Because a gummy smile exposes more gum tissue and fewer teeth, a gummy smile makes your teeth appear shorter when they may indeed be the correct size, but you just can’t see them. The good news is that if you have a gummy smile you’re not stuck with it, says Dr. Emmanuel Aguilar at American Dental Clinic, your dental provider can fix gummy smiles with a procedure called crown lengthening.
Let’s begin this discussion by defining what crown lengthening is so that you can better understand how it’s used to transform gummy smiles. Crown lengthening is a dental surgery procedure that can be used for both cosmetic reasons like in the case of gummy smiles as well as a lead-in procedure for a restorative treatment like the placement of a bridge or crown when the current exposed amount of tooth would provide insufficient support.
Your dentist may also opt to do crown lengthening to get to a cavity under the gum line or in order to fix a tooth, which is broken at the gum line. In all these scenarios, the overarching goal is the same – to expose more of the natural tooth.
Here at American Dental Clinic, we perform outpatient crown lengthening surgery right here in our office, as is one of a vast selection of diverse procedures in our full mouth reconstruction toolbox. A crown lengthening procedure can take an hour or so depending on whether the procedure is defined to the gum line around one or more teeth or whether your provider recontours your entire gum line.
Recalculating the teeth to gum ratio
Think of crown lengthening as a process to fix the math or ratio between the amount of the tooth’s surface that appears and the amount of gum tissue that appears. Depending on the severity of the condition your dentist removes soft gum tissue or both gum tissue and some bone.
To begin the process your dentist administers local anesthesia or sedation to keep you comfortable. Typically a crown lengthening procedure will take an hour or so depending on how many teeth are worked on and whether soft tissue only or both soft tissue and bone need to be removed.
Much like when a sculptor takes a lump of clay and transforms it into a work of art, during a crown lengthening procedure your dentist recontours your gum line to create the smile you’ve always dreamed about. Specifically, your provider makes tiny incisions to remove small portions of gum tissue and in some cases a small amount of bone around the teeth. Once your dentist completes this step; he thoroughly washes the treatment area and stitches up the exposed gums.
You’ll go home with post-op instructions to keep the wound clean so that it can heal properly. Although your gums will be sore and swollen, as the swelling goes down and your gums heal, the pain will subside. Full recovery with a traditional crown lengthening procedure may take six to 12 weeks, but it varies patient to patient.
Here at American Dental Clinic, we can offer our patients advanced surgical options using laser dentistry. When we use lasers as our cutting tool for a crown lengthening procedure, the surgery not only results in less discomfort but also less bleeding and inflammation which translates into quicker recovery and healing time.
If a gummy smile is wreaking havoc on your confidence, make an appointment for a consultation at American Dental Clinic in San Diego to see if crown lengthening is right for you. Use our online booking tool or call today at 858-216-4662.