Learn about crown lengthening

Crown Lengthening: What is it, and Do I Really Need it?

Many patients find it difficult or frustrating to hear that they need more than just a crown to “fix” a tooth.  One of the dental procedures that often accompanies a crown is a periodontal surgery known as crown lengthening.  This procedure may be necessary even for teeth without dental crowns.  We’ll explain below.

What is Crown Lengthening?

The word crown in the phrase crown lengthening does not refer to the dental treatment of a crown to cover the tooth.  It refers to the anatomical crown of the tooth.  The anatomical crown is the portion of the tooth covered by enamel.  In an ideal situation, the jawbone and gums completely encase the roots of the teeth, and only the crown emerges into the mouth.

Crown lengthening is a periodontal surgery in which the gum surgeon removes a prescribed amount of jawbone and gum tissue to expose underlying tooth structure.  Some surgeons perform this procedure with a dental laser, and others use traditional scalpel and dental handpiece techniques.  The goal of crown lengthening surgery is to reposition the surrounding jawbone and gum tissues in a precise position as determined by the ideal anatomy or any restorative needs.

Why Do Some Teeth Need this surgery?

There are two general reasons teeth would need crown lengthening.  One is a scenario in which the teeth are healthy but covered by too much tissue.  The other involves teeth that are unhealthy and require “uncovering” in order to provide the appropriate dental restoration.

Healthy Teeth

Healthy teeth could require crown lengthening to expose enamel that has jawbone and gum tissues covering it.  These teeth often appear too short, and the smile may look “gummy”.  The crown lengthening procedure repositions the gums to the correct location on the teeth.

This procedure is also helpful in cases where patients suffer from a condition in which the gums overgrow, called gingival hyperplasia.  The excess tissue makes it difficult for you to keep the teeth clean and prevent cavities and gum disease.

Unhealthy Teeth

More commonly, dentists use crown lengthening to prepare unhealthy teeth for their final restorations.  When tooth decay (cavities) occur on an area of the tooth near the gumline, it is possible for the decay to extend underneath the gums.  In order for your dentist to properly remove that decay and rebuild the tooth in that area with a crown or filling, crown lengthening is often necessary.

This type of crown lengthening procedure exposes a specific amount of healthy tooth structure past the decay.  An essential factor for successful restoration of deep decay is having the crown or filling’s edge at a position on the tooth that is healthy and easy to reach for daily cleaning.

What Should I Expect if I Undergo Crown Lengthening?

If you undergo crown lengthening surgery with one of our gum specialists, you should not expect to feel any pain or discomfort during the procedure itself.  Afterward, you will have tenderness and minor bleeding at the surgery site.  We will ask you to follow strict care instructions after the surgery in order to promote healing and the most predictable result.

There will be a significant healing and stabilization period between your crown lengthening procedure and your final dental restoration.  Your periodontist and dentist will work together to determine the length of this time period.

More Questions about Crown Lengthening?

Call Empire Dental Specialty Group today to schedule a consultation with our periodontal specialists.  We can answer all of your questions about crown lengthening and help you understand your specific needs for gum treatments. We offer convenient appointments in both our Beavercreek and West Chester locations.