Crown Lengthening

Crown lengthening is a routine periodontal surgery performed to expose a greater amount of tooth structure.  The procedure does not actually lengthen the crown of a tooth, but rather lowers the gum line.  There are several reasons that your dentist or periodontist may recommend crown lengthening, but in general it is recommended to help make a restorative or cosmetic procedure possible.  Many times crown lengthening is the only option to save a tooth.

Reasons for Crown Lengthening

Teeth can develop problems below the gum line such as decay or fractures that a dentist cannot treat. A periodontist may perform crown lengthening to provide access to those areas and make it possible to place a long lasting, healthy restoration.

  • Restoration of damaged teeth – Fractures or damage, caused by trauma, decay or periodontal disease, can compromise a tooth and make it difficult or impossible to restore.  When the damage to the tooth extends below the gum line, crown lengthening can be used to correct the damage and allow for the tooth to support a new restoration.
  • 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 improve the esthetic appearance of the smile.
  • Dental crowns – If there is not enough tooth structure above the gum line to support a crown, then the gum line may need to be “lowered” to provide retention for the crown. Also, the body is unable to tolerate a restoration that extends below the gum line and close to the bone. Crown lengthening serves to provide more space between the supporting jawbone and restoration. This prevents the new crown from irritating and damaging gum tissues and bone once it is in place.

Improve Your Smile

People are often defined by their smile. When their smile is not quite right because of too much visible gum tissue, crown lengthening can often be performed to improve a “gummy smile”. Crown lengthening procedures are designed to reshape the gum tissue to allow teeth that appear short to look longer. This can enhance a natural smile, or improve esthetics for patients who are having veneers or other cosmetic dentistry completed.

The Treatment Process

Crown lengthening treatment of a single tooth can be a straightforward procedure which in most cases can be performed under local anesthesia. After numbing, a small incision is made around the tooth to provide access to reduce the bone. Following these adjustments the gum tissue is positioned further down the root and sutured in place. Healing is quick with only minimal discomfort. The sutures may be resorbable or may need to be removed after 1-2 weeks. Healing is evaluated at 6 weeks to determine if you are ready to move forward with any previously recommended restorative treatment.