Crown lengthening is a common dental surgery. A dental surgeon performs this procedure, which serves to remove a small amount of either gum tissue or bone, or both, in order to expose more of a tooth. This procedure may be performed for restorative or aesthetic purposes.
For restorative purposes, there may not be enough of a tooth’s surface sticking out above the gum line so it’s no longer able to support a filling or crown. This can happen when a tooth breaks off at the gum line (or right above it). It can also happen when there is underlying decay which then can cause a crown or filling to fall out. In order to replace that filling or crown, your dentist may need to expose more of the tooth. This is when crown lengthening would be helpful.
Aesthetically, crown lengthening can help to improve a “gummy smile.” This is when a patient has an over-excessive amount of gum showing in their smile. This can make the teeth appear shorter and be aesthetically displeasing.
How it’s Done
Crown lengthening is done using local anesthesia. The length of treatment depends on the number of teeth that need treatment. Sometimes, even if just one tooth needs to be lengthened, this procedure can include other neighboring teeth to be lengthened as well, so that the tissue is reshaped in a more gradual manner. If both bone and soft tissue are removed, the procedure will take longer than if only soft tissue is removed.
The dental surgeon or periodontist will make cuts in the gums that will allow them to pull them away from the teeth. Sometimes removing just gums is all that is necessary. Other times, small amounts of bone also need to be removed. The area is then washed with a saline treatment and the gums will be stitched together. Some dentists use bandages while others do not.
If you have temporary crowns on any of the involved teeth, the crowns may be removed before the procedure begins. The periodontist will put them back afterward.
Following your dentist’s post-operative care instructions is extremely important. You’ll be expected to follow a soft food diet, avoid brushing near the gum line, use a special mouth rinse, and take pain relievers. You may want to remove any food particles with toothpicks or an irrigator.