Periodontal Plastic Surgery
Plastic surgery is a form of medical treatment used to address concerns about physical appearance.  Many cosmetic concerns regarding the mouth, teeth, and gums can be addressed with plastic surgery.  Aesthetic dental surgery may also be performed to enhance the appearance of the smile or in preparation for future orthodontic work.

Types of Plastic Surgery

The two main types of periodontal plastic surgery are aesthetic crown lengthening and functional crown lengthening.  Each of these types of plastic dental surgery are performed on the gums to improve the appearance and function of the surrounding teeth.  

Aesthetic Crown Lengthening

This straightforward form of plastic surgery is the recommended course of treatment for patients concerned with the appearance of a “gummy” smile. Excess gum and bone tissue are removed to “lift” the line of the gums. This procedure is typically performed on the teeth most visible when smiling and may be performed on one or more than one tooth at a time. The amount of time required for an aesthetic crown lengthening can vary depending on how much tissue will be removed and how much of the gum line will be worked on, though this relatively simple procedure can usually be completed in about one hour.

Functional Crown Lengthening

If a tooth has been broken off below the gum line or is affected by advanced stages of tooth decay a dentist may recommend treating the problem with plastic surgery.  A functional crown lengthening is a more involved procedure that requires the dentist to expose additional amounts of periodontal tissue to access the root of the tooth being worked on.  Often, functional crown lengthening is the first stage of the treatment a patient receives for restorative dental work.  During this procedure the dentist must reshape the gums and the bone structure beneath so that the space is ready for later restorative work.  

What to Expect

Before any periodontal plastic surgery procedure beings, the patient will be given an injection of local anesthetic.  This is to prevent any sensation of pain or discomfort to the patient; the effects of the numbing agent will last for a few hours after the procedure is complete.  

Each crown lengthening procedure begins with the dentist making small incisions in the gum line.  Small amounts of bone tissue may be removed during aesthetic lengthening; a little more bone tissue removal takes place during a functional crown lengthening and the removal of a broken or decayed tooth would take place at this time.  The dentist finishes each procedure with the application of sutures and protective bandages.  

After the Procedure

The sutures applied at the end of treatment are removed in 1 – 2 weeks. Full healing of the surgery site  takes place in 6 – 8 weeks at which time any additional restorative work can begin.  

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