Crown Lengthening vs. Gum Contouring: Which One’s Right for Your Smile?

Gum contouring or crown lengthening

Achieving a balanced smile through periodontal cosmetic dentistry treatment.

When most people think of what makes a smile beautiful, usually it’s the shape, size, and brightness of the teeth that’s the main focus. But what about the gums?

Your gums play an integral role in the overall appearance and health of your smile. The balance between your gums and teeth is particularly apparent when you smile. Too much visible gum results in a gummy smile, with teeth appearing too small or short. An uneven gum line may also unbalance a smile, especially in the case of damage from periodontal (gum) disease.

So how can these problems be solved? In most cases, it will come down to a choice between crown lengthening or gum contouring.

What are crown lengthening and gum contouring services?

Crown lengthening and gum contouring are both periodontal (gum) cosmetic dentistry procedures. They are generally considered elective in nature for patients with cosmetic concerns, though in the case of periodontal disease, these options can revive gum health and function.

There is often some confusion over what the difference is between crown lengthening and gum contouring. After all, they provide very similar results in terms of appearance. Here’s what you should know.

Gum contouring is a minimally invasive cosmetic procedure that treats superficial gum tissue.

Gum contouring, also called a gum lift or laser gum lift, is the most minimally invasive treatment option for rebalancing a patient’s gum line. It involves the contouring or removal of excess soft gum tissue with a targeted laser and can also help to reshape the gum line for a smoother appearance.

Crown lengthening is more invasive and treats both the gum tissue as well as the underlying tooth structure.

Crown lengthening is a more in-depth procedure and often the first step in a gummy smile makeover. It involves the removal of excess gum tissue and the exposure of more of the natural tooth’s surface, lengthening the visible surface of your teeth. Most of the time dental crowns or porcelain veneers will be used to protect the teeth, especially in the case of very short teeth.

Who’s the best candidate for crown lengthening vs. gum contouring?

The choice between crown lengthening and gum contouring really comes down to your individual smile as well as your personal smile goals.

Contouring is perfect for patients that:

  • Only need mild to moderate reshaping of their gum line
  • Have otherwise well-shaped teeth with an attractive length

Crown lengthening is a better choice for patients that:

  • Have excessive gumminess in their smile
  • Need moderate to extensive gum reshaping
  • Have small or short teeth

Your dentist will perform a thorough examination and take plenty of x-rays to see what’s going on in the relationship between your teeth and your gums. In some cases, simple contouring of the gums can give you the results you want. In other cases, going a bit further with crown lengthening is going to be the key to getting your dream smile.

What’s treatment like for crown lengthening or gum contouring?

The treatment process for crown lengthening and contouring the gums is often easier than many patients anticipate. At Staley Dental, we use soft tissue dental laser technology to minimize swelling and bleeding while increasing patient comfort and the effectiveness of treatment, and minimizing the need for anesthesia.

Gum contouring is completed in a single appointment and only takes about 30 minutes to an hour for the average patient. Your dentist will use a soft tissue laser to lift the height of your gums and reshape the edges for an attractive, smooth finish. After contouring is complete, you’ll be sent home with some simple aftercare instructions.

Crown lengthening is also completed in a single appointment, but if dental crowns or veneers are also necessary, additional appointments will be needed. Crown lengthening usually takes a bit longer than gum contouring as more reshaping and removal of excessive soft tissue take place.

If your crown lengthening is part of a gummy smile makeover, you may return after two weeks or so for permanent porcelain crowns or porcelain veneers to be placed. You’ll be fitted with temporary crowns or veneers in the meantime.

How is aftercare post-crown lengthening or post-gum contouring?

Aftercare is generally easy and straightforward for both crown lengthening and gum contouring. Since gum contouring is less invasive, patients will naturally experience less post-procedure discomfort and heal faster. Patients who have received crown lengthening may have a longer healing period.

Your gums will experience slight swelling as well as tenderness. For any discomfort or pain, an OTC pain reliever is often all that’s necessary for a few days post-procedure.

What’s the next step if I’m ready for periodontal cosmetic dentistry?

If gum contouring or crown lengthening sounds like the solution you’ve been wanting for your smile, the next step is to schedule a consultation.

Schedule your crown lengthening or gum contouring consultation at Staley Dental in Boise.

Dr. Staley and his team provide both crown lengthening and gum contouring to patients in and around the Boise area. We are conveniently located near downtown Boise and offer complete dental care for individuals and families with kids.

You can schedule your gum contouring or crown lengthening consultation today by calling our office or filling out this online form.