Those who feel that they have a "gummy" smile can greatly benefit from a cosmetic gum lift, also known as "esthetic crown lengthening". This relatively simple procedure usually takes less than an hour to perform and is essentially a "gum lift". During the procedure the doctor removes excess gum to expose more of the natural teeth and reshapes the smile to enhance it. While the procedure can be performed on just one tooth, it is most often done to the entire smile. The end result creates a wider, more beautiful, and more brilliant smile.
Esthetic crown lengthening can also be done to preserve the health of the smile. Removing excess gum tissue can help control and prevent periodontal disease by setting you up for successful cleaning of your teeth. Increasing the exposed surface area of the tooth actually decreases the excess depth under the gums ("gum pockets") where bacteria can grow and harm your teeth and gums.
Prior to the procedure a local anesthetic will be administered to prevent discomfort. Small incisions in the gum tissue will used to remove the excess and contour your smile. In some cases, a small amount of bone will also need to be removed to create the natural smile. Once this gentle procedure is completed, sutures may be placed to encourage the teeth and newly contoured gums to re-attach to each other as designed. A follow up appointment will be needed one to two weeks after the procedure to evaluate healing.
Sometimes a "functional" crown lengthening will be needed in order to perform a cosmetic or restorative procedure. This may be the case if a tooth is too far decayed, broken below the gumline, or has insufficient structure for a restoration like a crown or bridge. In cases like this, the dentist may be required to lower the gum and bone levels to expose more of the root surface so it can then be restored. However, in these case, simply trimming back the gum line is not sufficient. Instead, the dentist will need to reshape the gums and supporting bone to allow for adequate room to place a high quality restoration.
The procedure is similar to esthetic crown lengthening in that a local anesthetic will be administered. Small incisions are required to remove the gum tissue and reshape the area. When the procedure has been completed, the dentist will place sutures to encourage the teeth and newly contoured gums to re-attach to each other as designed. Often, a bandage / dressing will also be placed to protect the area for a few weeks . After the area has completely healed (8-12 weeks), the final restorative dentistry such as a crown or bridge can be placed.