Madison Periodontics & Implantology
Dr. Fanasy P. Jefcoat
Board Certified Periodontist

Crown Lengthening

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, esthetically 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 – Dental decay or tooth fracture can cause teeth to be broken near or below the gum line. Crown lengthening can be used to remove some gum and bone tissue from around the remaining tooth which will allow space for a new restoration to be made to correct the damaged tooth.

  • Cosmetic uses – Extra gum tissue can make teeth look unnaturally short, and and the smile "gummy".  Removing excess gum tissue can restore a balanced, healthy look and thus improve the esthetic appearance of the smile.

  • Dental crowns – Crown lengthening serves to provide more space between the supporting jawbone and dental crown and to level out uneven gum tissues before having new crowns placed on the teeth.  This prevents the new crowns from damaging gum tissues and bone once they are 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. 

The dentist will make 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 treated to provide a more even reshaping.  Separating the gums provides the dentist with access to the roots of the teeth and the underlying bone.

In some cases, the removal of a small amount of tissue will provide enough tooth exposure to place a crown.  In other cases, the dentist will also need to remove a small amount of bone from around the teeth. 

When the dentist is satisfied the teeth have sufficient exposure, the wound will be cleansed 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.

The surgical site will be completely healed in approximately six to eight weeks.

If you have any questions about crown lengthening, please ask your dentist.

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