Crown lengthening is a procedure designed to reshape the gums at the base of the desired tooth or teeth. Just as its name sounds, its purpose is to expose additional tooth surface and, if necessary, adjust the bone level. There are many dental conditions that need crown lengthening as part of the restorative procedure. The most common condition requiring crown lengthening is severe tooth decay, where the decay extends below the gum line. Another common problem is when a tooth has fractured and broken off beneath the existing gum line. Crown lengthening often serves both the functions of cosmetics and necessity in case where veneers, crowns or bridges are being placed. In these and other restorative procedures, crown lengthening may be vital to restoring a natural smile.
Crown lengthening is performed by your periodontist under a local anesthetic. (The local anesthetic can be combined with sedation for patients who desire it.) The selected area of the gums is reduced and contoured through the removal of small amounts of tissue. The goal is to lengthen the appropriate teeth and create greater symmetry at the gum line.
During routine dental examination, the dentist may discover a cavity below the gum where it is difficult to visualize. Here we see the cavity because the slide has made the gums transparent.
Before we can restore this filling we need to alter the tissues so that the filling can be accessed and restored. The gums are peeled back. Some of the bone surrounding the teeth is removed.
The bone is shaped so that it follows the regular bone outline. The gums are sutured back into place.
After the area has healed and when the sutures are removed the cavity is easily accessible. It is prepared with a drill. The prepared area can now be filled.
In some advanced cases it may be necessary to remove a bit of the bone as well. Then the gum tissue is gently freed from both tooth and bone and pulled back exposing the bone that supports the tooth. The height and width of bone surrounding the tooth is reduced and contoured and the gums repositioned and sutured.
Patients can return to their normal routines in a few days and complete healing may take one to two weeks. The staff at Century City Periodontics will advise patients on the post surgical regimen tailored to their particular situation. Patients will return for the several post-surgical visits included in the total treatment plan.
Crown lengthening can play a critical role in the restoration of damaged teeth. Severe tooth decay or injury may result in teeth broken or destroyed below the gum line. By exposing more of the tooth, the crown lengthening procedure provides a stable base for the final tooth restoration.
Crown lengthening is also frequently used to support cosmetic dental procedures. It is especially useful in cases where the gum extends too far down the length of the teeth causing them to appear unnaturally short. This can also increase their vulnerability to periodontal disease. Removal of this "extra" gum tissue can restore a natural look and thus improve a smile.