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Dr. Li Attends Course on Gum Grafting and Crown Lengthening

By Pamela Li, in Articles, on January 20, 2014 | Comments (0)

visit to the dentistOTTAWA, Ontario – Dr. Pamela Li recently attended a continuing education course from the Perio Institute in Toronto in an effort to sharpen her skills and knowledge to better serve her patients. One of the topics covered was crown lengthening.

“Crown lengthening is a great option for patients with overly gummy smiles,” says Dr. Li. “Gummy smiles can be the result of too much gum tissue covering the tooth. Crown lengthening can also be performed to make a restorative or cosmetic dental procedure possible. If a tooth is decayed, broken below the gum line or doesn’t have enough visible structure to attach the restoration, crown lengthening can correct it.”

During the procedure, excess bone and gum tissue are reshaped to expose more of the tooth. A cosmetic dentist like Dr. Li, who serves patients in Ottawa, can do this to one tooth, then entire gum line, or several teeth to expose a broader and toothier smile. In the event that the patient needs a crown or bridge, but doesn’t have enough visible tooth to attach it, crown lengthening will adjust the gum and bone level so the tooth will be able to be restored properly.

“The course I attended was incredibly valuable,” says Dr. Li. “It covered both anterior, or front teeth and posterior or back teeth, lengthening. In anterior crown lengthening, we often are simply correcting gummy smiles by making teeth look longer. Posterior crown lengthening is used for short teeth, root decay and broken teeth.”

Crown lengthening is a surgical procedure during which the gingival tissue around the tooth is incised. The dentist or periodontist will make cuts in the tissue to pull the gum away from the bone, providing access to the tooth root and bone. The amount of gum tissue that will need to be removed will depend on the needs of the individual patient. Once enough of the tooth is exposed, the area will be cleaned and the gums will be stitched back together.

It is a minor surgery with a quick recover time, and stitches will typically resorb on their own within a week. Patients will receive a special oral rinse and care instructions to properly care for their mouth during recovery.

The other procedure covered during the course Dr. Li attended was gum grafting. In some patients, gum grafting is a necessary procedure to protect against the effects of gum recession, which can be damaging. Gum grafts can also be performed to improve the look of a patient’s smile.

“If a patient is experiencing gum recession that means the patient is losing gum and bone around their teeth,” says Dr. Li. “More of the root of the tooth will be exposed, and there is an increased risk of root decay. While it can be a common occurrence, it can lead to unattractive smiles and tooth sensitivity. Eventually, if not treated, it can even lead to tooth loss.”

To repair the damage, a gum graft may be needed. At the course Dr. Li attended, two types of grafts were discussed – connective tissue grafts and free gingival grafts.

Free gingival grafts are usually performed on the back teeth, or areas not typically seen. Using tissue from the roof of the mouth, a small amount will be removed and then attached to the gum area in need. This type of graft works well in patients who have thin gums and require additional tissue to reinforce their gums.

Connective tissue grafts are used in esthetic areas. A flap of skin will be removed from the roof of the mouth. Under the flap lies a tissue called the subepithelial connective tissue. This will also be removed and stitched to the gum tissue that surrounds the exposed root. Once the connective tissue has been removed, the flap will be stitched back down. Connective tissue grafts are typically performed in the front or more esthetic areas of a patient’s mouth. The tissue can reattached to the exposed root area, and will decrease sensitivity on the roots.

Just as with a crown lengthening procedure, recovery from a gum graft will take about a week to two weeks. Patients will be given a special rinse to help control plaque during the healing process, and in some cases, patients will be put on an antibiotic to reduce the possible infection risk. Patients should refrain from flossing and brushing the gum line that was repaired until it has fully healed.

If you think you may be a candidate for either procedure, contact Dr. Li’s office today. She is committed to helping her patients achieve their best smiles and maintain their best oral health, and her commitment to quality care is evidenced by her desire to continue her education and advance her skill set.

© 2014 Millionairium and Dr. Pamela Li. Authorization to post is granted, with the stipulation that Millionairium and Dr. Pamela Li are credited as sole source. Linking to other sites from this document is strictly prohibited, with the exception of herein imbedded links.


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