Periodontal Plastic Surgery

Altered Passive Eruption: ”short teeth” or “gummy smiles” explained

Your teeth came in over the course of these two phases:

1. Active Eruption: your teeth are growing outward, toward the opposite set of teeth

2. Passive Eruption: your gums meet your teeth halfway, and recede to expose the whole crown of your tooth.

In about 12% of people, passive eruption does not happen or is incomplete. For these folks, maybe you, it appears as though the affected tooth or teeth are shorter than they really are because they are still partially covered in excess gum tissue. In oral health jargon this is called altered passive eruption or delayed passive eruption. Colloquially this is known as “gummy smile” or “short teeth”.

Altered passive eruption increases your risk for gum disease and that extra gum can get in the way of proper dental care. Finally, but certainly no less seriously, people with altered passive eruption may additionally have esthetic concerns. No matter what motivates you, treatment aimed at fixing short teeth is available. Here at Dental Implants in the City we offer a altered passive eruption treatment option called crown lengthening because of the transformative gummy smile treatment opportunity it presents.

Crown Lengthening: getting you the exposure you deserve

“Periodontal plastic surgery”,“gum lift” and crown lengthening all refer to the same procedure. Crown, the part of a tooth you can see, lengthening can be useful, or even necessary, in a variety of contexts. While the procedure is called crown lengthening because the goal is expose more of your natural tooth or teeth, crown lengthening is more literally a gum shortening (hence, “gum lift”). That is, your clinician will surgically take away excess gum and bone tissue in order to expose the hidden parts of your natural crown. Thus, leaving you with an effectively fuller smile. However, your teeth are not literally longer- those beautiful, biologic teeth are all natural you. Crown lengthening helps you let them shine and reduces your risk for gum disease.

Functional vs. Esthetic: a matter of cost

There are many reasons you may need or want to undergo a crown lengthening. Depending on whether your insurance company thinks that it is a need or a want, your procedure may be considered functional or esthetic crown lengthening, respectively. To be justified as functional, a crown lengthening typically has to be 1) necessary for the placement of a restorative prosthetic, such as a bridge or artificial crown, or 2) a therapeutic response to gum disease. Most dental insurance plans will not cover esthetic procedures and on average the ticket price of a crown lengthening procedure is between $1,000 – $4,000. That being said, regardless of why crown lengthening is part of your vision for your smile, we will work with you to overcome whatever barriers are encountered, financial or otherwise.

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