Our teeth contribute greatly to our overall appearance. Stunning pearly whites can make a smile more captivating and boost a person’s confidence. And it’s because of this that cosmetic dentistry became a trend, with people flocking cosmetic dental surgeons to achieve more aesthetic teeth.
However, cosmetic dentistry is not all about what looks good. It also plays a part in improving and supplementing restorative tooth treatments like bridges, crowns, dental implants, and veneers. Many patients who get restorative treatments are first referred to dental surgeons or periodontists to lengthen the teeth and create a better foundation for the restoration.
If your dentist has recommended cosmetic dentistry prior to your restorative treatment, here’s what will happen and everything you can expect.
Cosmetic dentistry aims to make your teeth bigger through surgical crown lengthening. In this procedure, the gum line of the subject tooth is contoured to the desired height in order to reveal more of the tooth.
Bigger teeth are often needed before restorative procedures to create healthy gum tissue and form a solid tooth structure to support and cement the crown, veneer, dental implant, or bridge. Otherwise, the crown will not fit properly and won’t firmly attach.
Making the teeth bigger before a restorative procedure is also vital to prevent the accumulation of bacteria under the crown. This usually happens if the crown margin invades the gum line. Hence, cosmetic dentistry is required to align the crown margin at or below the gum line. This adequate space will keep bacteria at bay and prevent inflammation, swelling, infection, and pain.
Not everyone is referred to a periodontist before they can push through with a restorative procedure. It’s usually needed for people who have:
Although its name is intimidating and scary, a surgical crown lengthening procedure is very simple and quick. Knowing how it goes and what to expect can help with the nerves and allow you to prepare beforehand.
First, the dental surgeon or periodontist will take a look at your teeth and determine what needs to be done to re-contour the gum line and make the teeth bigger. This is usually done by studying your medical history, taking X-rays, and inspecting the subject’s tooth. At this point, you’ll want to inform the surgeon of medications that you take just in case they may interfere with the anesthesia.
Once they have identified the proper course of action and the subject teeth to work on, the surgeon can begin the process. However, in some cases, they may fit a temporary crown that you need to keep on before your surgery.
Before the procedure itself, the surgeon will apply a local anesthesia to ensure that you don’t feel any pain during the process. The anesthesia will make the surgical area feel numb.
When the anesthesia kicks in, the periodontist can begin releasing the gum from the tooth by cutting the tissue and remodeling them to expose more tooth structure. In some people, the gum line will have some bones that need to be remodeled as well.
Finally, the gums are washed with salt water and then sealed with sutures, which come out on their own. You may feel some pain after the local anesthesia wears off, but your surgeon should prescribe medication that you can take to relieve the pain or discomfort. Be sure to also ask the periodontist about any post-operative care you should know about to prevent infection during recovery.
Overall, the surgery will only last for less than an hour, but if there are a lot of teeth to work on, it can take longer.
After your crown lengthening procedure, the periodontist will schedule two appointments to check how well your gums have healed and confirm that you are ready to begin the restorative treatment. The recovery period depends on the complexity of the surgery. Some become fully healed in only eight weeks, while others can take as long as six months.
While healing, make sure that you avoid any strenuous physical activity for at least three days. Avoid hot drinks and food for 24 hours and don’t rinse your mouth. These will help prevent the surgical area from bleeding.
After your gums have healed, a tooth structure is created and your general dentist can use it to seal and cement the crown during your restorative treatment. With the bigger tooth, they will be able to move the crown margin away from bone, support the crown, veneer, dental implant, or bridge better, and prevent bacteria from accumulating.
A surgical crown lengthening procedure sounds scarier than it actually is. But with the proper preparation and knowledge of what to expect, you can go through the procedure with confidence and ensure that your surgery is successful.