Crown lengthening

Crown lengthening is a dental treatment used for several reasons. One such reason is to help support crowns and fillings that are to be placed in the mouth, which may otherwise not be so stable. Crown lengthening is also used in cases where the gums overlap the front of the teeth, which can obstruct a person’s smile and cause them low self-esteem. This is a dental procedure performed through surgery and involves the removal of gum from the mouth. It will likely also include the removal of bone, but this will depend on individual cases. The surgical procedure involved may be off putting for some, but this is a procedure that can really make a difference to a person’s life.

Why is this procedure necessary?

If your dentist informs you that you are in need of a filling or crown then this will usually be a simple procedure. However, there are some instances in which the gum sticks out before the teeth and makes it difficult for a crown or filling to be attached. It may also be difficult to attach a filling or crown if part of a tooth falls out. If this is the case then more of the tooth will need to be exposed through a surgical procedure.

This is a procedure you may also choose to have if you have what experts call ‘gummy’ mouth, which is when the gum is too prominent in the mouth and gets in the way of the teeth, usually the front teeth. This can have an adverse affect on a person’s self-confidence. Thankfully, through crown lightening a person’s life can be changed for the better.

Preparation for the procedure

Before you are able to undergo the surgical procedure you will need to have your teeth readied. This may involve a visit to the periodontist or your normal dentist, who will clean the teeth prior to crown lengthening in order to make the actual surgical procedure easier. The periodontist will also perform some x-rays to ascertain the current structure of the teeth in relation to the gums. There may be the need to apply a temporary crown in order to create a barrier against any bacteria before the procedure comes around. The dental practitioner will refer to any prior dental history before scheduling you in for the surgical procedure.

What does the surgical procedure involve?

The surgical procedure will be done through the use of local anaesthetic. Length of treatment will depend on the state of the teeth and gums, and the amount of gum and bone that needs to be removed. Any temporary crowns in the corresponding area will be removed before the procedure begins and will be put back in place once the procedure is complete.

At first, the practitioner will slice into the gum and then part it from the teeth. This will expose the underlying teeth and the bone they are rooted into. This will give the practitioner a clear view to decide whether there is any actual need to remove bone. In some cases this may not be necessary. The dentist can then remove some of the gum in order to make the teeth more prominent when the procedure is complete. Any temporary crowns can then be returned to the mouth or a new one may be put in place.

The area will then be sterilised and stitched up. There may also be the need to use a bandage on the spot. The healing process can take up to three months, after which a second temporary crown will be fitted for the now lengthier tooth. The permanent crown that will provide your teeth with stability will only be fitted once the healing process is complete, once the gums have stopped shrinking.

What to do after the procedure

Ice will need to be used during the first couple of days after the procedure is complete to help with swelling. A mouth rinse will also be recommended and your diet should only include easily chewable food. The stitches can be removed after a period of around ten days, and there may be the need for another check up after a month or so to make sure everything is okay.

The practice of cleaning your teeth is one you should be careful with. You can brush your teeth to maintain dental hygiene but the gum area where the procedure was performed should be avoided. Also, if bits of food get caught up near this area then you should remove them with a toothpick. Contact your dentist if the bandage becomes loose, there is an infection, bleeding continues or if there is any discharge from the area.

Possible risks

There are certain risks to this procedure that you should consider. You will be briefed about such risks by your dental practitioner.

  • There is the possibility that the area will bleed for a while after the procedure, but you should not worry unless the bleeding fails to stop.
  • There is the possibility an infection may develop. If so, you should contact your dentist.
  • At first, your teeth and gums may be sensitive to hot and cold substances, but this should abate after time.
  • There is the possibility that the tooth which was surgically operated on may look longer than the other teeth by its side, due to the removal of bone and gum.
  • If bone is removed the tooth may become loose.