Crown lengthening is usually performed to improve the health of the gum tissue, prepare the mouth for a procedure, or correct a “gummy smile”. A “gummy smile” is used to describe an instance where teeth are covered with excess gum tissue resulting in a less esthetically-pleasing smile. The procedure involves reshaping or recontouring the gum tissue and bone around the tooth in question to create a new gum-to–tooth relationship. Crown lengthening can be performed on a single tooth, many teeth, or the entire gum line.
Crown lengthening is often required when your tooth needs a new crown or other restoration. The edge of that restoration is deep below the gum tissue and not immediately accessible. It is also usually too close to the bone or below the bone.
Crown lengthening allows us to reach the edge of the restoration, ensuring a proper fit to the tooth. It should also provide enough tooth structure so the new restoration will not come loose in the future. This allows you to clean the edge of the restoration when you brush and floss to prevent decay and gum disease.
Crown lengthening takes approximately one hour but will largely depend on the amount of teeth involved and if any amount of bone will need to be removed. The procedure is usually performed under local anesthetic and involves a series of small incisions around the tissue to separate the gums from the teeth. Even if only one tooth requires the procedure, it will probably be necessary to adjust the surrounding teeth to enable a more even reshaping. In some cases, extraction of a small amount of bone will be necessary as well.
When Dr. Barack is satisfied that the teeth have sufficient exposure and the procedure is completed, the incisions will be cleaned with sterile water. Sutures and a protective bandage are then placed to help secure the new gum-to-tooth relationship. Your teeth will look noticeably longer immediately after surgery because the gums have now been repositioned. You will need to be seen in one or two weeks to remove the sutures and evaluate your healing. The surgical site should be completely healed in approximately two to three months following the procedure.
Did you know…
that crown lengthening is not only functionally and aesthetically efficient, but also beneficial to patient health? Gums that extend too far over a natural tooth can be more difficult to clean and keep free of pockets that harbor harmful bacteria. A lengthened crown is more hygienic and easier to clean, reducing the chances of gum disease later on. Untreated gum disease can advance, causing inflammation, bleeding, and even tooth loss.
Frequently Asked Questions
Am I a candidate for crown lengthening treatment?
If your teeth appear short, you may be a candidate for crown lengthening to expose more of your natural teeth. If you visit your dentist for a restoration, you may be referred to a periodontist for crown lengthening treatment if your visible tooth structure is inadequate to support a restoration. Schedule a periodontal consultation to find out more about your eligibility for crown lengthening.
What should I expect during a periodontal crown lengthening procedure?
Crown lengthening is performed in a periodontist’s office under local anesthetic. During the procedure, the surgeon gently removes gum tissues and bone to expose the underlying tooth. The surgical site will be rinsed, cleansed, and sutured shut. Procedure length depends on the number of crowns being lengthened. If you are undergoing crown lengthening to prepare for a restoration, your permanent crown will not be placed for at least 3 months following the procedure.
Will I need to follow any special instructions following a crown lengthening treatment?
Yes. You’ll experience some swelling and soreness in the initial days following a crown lengthening procedure. Use ice and pain relievers to minimize discomfort, and be sure to take any prescriptions as directed by your periodontist. Be prepared to consume a diet composed of soft foods in the days following your procedure.