Do you feel it is absolutely necessary to do gum contouring before front veneers or crowns are applied? Is there a difference in crown lengthening and gum trimming?
—Sheila from Illinois
Excellent cosmetic dentists always pay attention to the contours of the gums. Sometimes, if the gums don’t show enough of the teeth, or if their contours are uneven, making one tooth look a lot shorter than the tooth next to it, the gums can make the smile ugly. Cosmetic dentists will often do gum contouring with a laser or an electrosurgery instrument or another similar high-tech device. When the gum tissue is trimmed in this manner, there is little to no discomfort and rapid healing associated with the procedure. Crown lengthening is very different from gum contouring. The contouring is done for aesthetic reasons. The term crown lengthening is usually used to refer to a functional procedure that is done prior to placing a porcelain crown or another type of crown. Sometimes there isn’t enough tooth structure remaining to adequately hold a crown on the tooth, and so the natural crown of the tooth is lengthened by removing some of the gum tissue and sometimes the bone tissue around the neck of the tooth. There are times when crown lengthening is the only practical alternative to extracting a tooth.
—Dr. David Hall
- Click here to ask Dr. Hall a question.
- Click here to see a photograph of gum contouring results in an extreme dental makeover case.
- Click here for referral to an expert cosmetic dentist.
- Click here to return to the frequent questions about cosmetic dentistry page.
- Read about the loss of enamel on the insides of the front teeth from bulimia.
- Read about gum disease.