What is crown lengthening?

This is a surgical dental procedure involving the removal of gum tissue and bone to expose more tooth surface area.

Why is crown lengthening performed?

Crown lengthening is often performed when a tooth needs to be fixed, but not enough of the tooth protrudes above the gum to support a filling or crown. This can happen when:

  • A tooth cracks off at the gum line.
  • A crown or filling falls out of a tooth and there is tooth decay underneath.

Crown lengthening can also be used in cosmetic dentistry to fix a “gummy smile” – when the patient has a lot of gum tissue around their upper teeth. Excess gum tissue is removed to create a more aesthetically pleasing appearance.

What are the steps before crown lengthening surgery?

Before the surgery, the patient may require a professional teeth cleaning. If the patient needs a crown, the surgeon may place a temporary crown. The temporary crown protects the tooth and allows the surgeon to gauge how much soft tissue or bone to remove.

How is crown lengthening performed?

The crown lengthening procedure is performed under local anesthesia. The periodontist will cut and pull the gums away from the teeth to expose the roots of the teeth and the surrounding bone. The surgeon will then remove gum tissue and sometimes bone from around the roots of the teeth. Bone is removed using a combination of hand instruments and rotary instruments. Once enough of the tooth has been exposed, the area will be irrigated with sterile salt water and the gums will be stitched together. The periodontist may cover the surgical site with a dressing called an intraoral.

Even if only one tooth needs crown lengthening, the surgeon may include neighboring teeth so that the gum tissues are evenly reshaped. Post surgery, the teeth will appear elongated because the gums are now shorter then before the surgery.

You will be given prescriptions for a pain reliever and a mouth rinse. Your dentist will ask you to follow a somewhat soft diet. You can brush the teeth near the stitches, but avoid the gums. Remove food particles with a toothpick or a water irrigator.

What are the steps after crown lengthening surgery?

The periodontist will prescribe pain medication and a chlorhexidine mouth rinse. An ice pack may be placed against the face to reduce swelling. The patient will be instructed in post surgery care and scheduled to return in 7 to 10 days for stitch removal. The gums will be allowed to fully heal for two to three months before the tooth is prepared for the final crown.

For more information on crown lengthening in Palm Desert, California, we welcome you to contact our dental office today. Dr. Anne Nicholas, our talented dentist, will be happy to answer your questions.