Crown lengthening is generally performed in order to improve the health of the gum tissue, or to prepare the mouth for restorative or cosmetic procedures. In addition, crown lengthening procedures can also be used to correct a “gummy” smile, where teeth are covered with excess gum tissue. Crown lengthening exposes more of the natural tooth by reshaping or recontouring bone and gum tissue. This treatment can be performed on a single tooth, many teeth or the entire gum line, to expose a pleasant, aesthetically pleasing smile.
Reasons for crown lengthening
Crown lengthening is a versatile and common procedure that has many effective uses and benefits. The vast majority of patients who have undergone this type of surgery are highly delighted with the results.
Here are some of the most common reasons for crown lengthening:
- Restoration of damaged teeth – Periodontal disease can cause severe damage to the teeth, as can trauma and decay. Where teeth have been broken beneath the gum line, crown lengthening can be used to prepare the area for a new restoration to correct the damaged teeth. Short teeth do not support crowns well. If your dentist diagnosis is to have a longer tooth for a better supporting crown, crown lengthening can provide your dentist with the appropriate amount of tooth structure to work with.
- Cosmetic uses – Extra gum tissue can make teeth look unnaturally short, and also increase susceptibility to periodontal infections. Removing excess gum tissue can restore a balanced, healthy look and thus improve the aesthetic appearance of the smile.
- Dental crowns – Crown lengthening serves to provide more space between the supporting jawbone and dental crown. This prevents the new crown from damaging gum tissues and bone once it is in place.
What does crown lengthening involve?
Crown lengthening is normally performed under local anesthetic. The amount of time this procedure takes will largely depend in how many teeth are involved and whether a small amount of bone needs to be removed, in addition to the soft tissue. In most cases, crown lengthening is done in a one hour appointment.
The periodontist will make a series of small incisions around the soft tissue in order to separate the gums away from the teeth. Even if only one tooth requires the re-contour, neighboring teeth are usually involved to provide a more even reshaping. Separating the gums provides the periodontist with access to the roots of the teeth and the underlying bone.
In some cases, the repositioning of the gumline will provide enough tooth exposure to place a crown. In other cases, the dentist will also need to reshape a small amount of bone from around the teeth. The bone is usually reshaped using a combination of special hand instruments, and rotary instruments. The rotary instruments roughly resemble the drill that is used in cavity treatment.
When the periodontist is satisfied the teeth have sufficient exposure, the wound will be cleaned with sterile water and the gum tissue will be sutured with small stitches. The teeth will look noticeably longer immediately after surgery because the gums have now been repositioned.
Prescriptions may be provided for pain medication, and a chlorhexidine (antimicrobial) mouth rinse may be given to help reduce any bacteria attempting to re-colonize. The surgical site will be completely healed in approximately four to six weeks, at which time your dentist can start with the crown work.
If you have any questions about crown lengthening, please ask Dr. Bashiri and staff.