Periodontics is a specialized area of dentistry that focuses on the health of the tissues supporting and surrounding the teeth. A dentist or periodontist works with patients on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of the gums, bone, and ligaments in the jaw.
Periodontal disease is mainly caused by plaque, the sticky bacteria that form on the teeth. Without proper oral hygiene, this plaque can cause infection in the gums, bones, and tissues. In addition to poor oral hygiene, periodontal disease may be caused by diseases that suppress the immune system, genetic predisposition, tobacco use, and certain medications. Left untreated, periodontitis can cause tooth loss.
Regular twice yearly visits to your dentist will aid in the early detection and treatment of periodontal disease.
A crown lengthening procedure is generally performed when there is not enough of the tooth protruding from the gum line to perform treatment. This may be due to tooth breakage, a crown falling off, or a large filling falling out. The periodontist will need to expose more of the tooth in order to provide the necessary treatment.
Prior to the surgery, an office exam with teeth cleaning and x-rays will be done. If a crown is needed, a temporary one may be placed to protect the tooth until the surgical date.
Local anesthesia is provided to numb the area. The periodontist carefully makes small incisions in the gums to pull them away from the teeth. The amount of gum removed is dependent upon how much of the tooth is exposed and how much is needed to provide adequate treatment. If the tooth has broken off quite low, the periodontist may have to remove a small amount of bone around the root of the tooth. Once a suitable amount of gum has been removed, stitches will be used to hold the gums together during healing. Temporary crowns may be put back on to protect the area. Pain relievers and mouth rinse is usually prescribed postoperatively.
For the first couple of days after the crown lengthening, apply ice to the side of the face that underwent the procedure to reduce swelling. In one to two weeks, a return visit for removing stitches is scheduled. Further follow up is at the dentist’s discretion.
When the area has healed sufficiently, in about three months, the dentist will prepare the tooth for the permanent crown and/or filling.
People who complain of “gummy smiles” may undergo crown lengthening on the front teeth as a cosmetic procedure.