What It’s Used For
Crown lengthening is done when a tooth needs to be restored, but there is not enough tooth structure above the gum line to support a filling or a crown.
This can happen when a tooth breaks off at the gum line, or a crown or filling falls out of a tooth that has extensive decay underneath.
In rare cases, a condition called gummy smile — when an unusually large amount of gum tissue shows around the upper teeth — can be treated using crown lengthening.
How It’s Done
This procedure is done under local anesthesia. The amount of time it takes varies depending on the number of teeth that requiretreatmente. Although your problem may involve only one tooth, crown-lengthening surgery typically includes neighboring teeth so that the tissues can be reshaped gradually. If only soft tissue is removed, the procedure probably will take less time than if both soft tissue and bone are removed.
The dentist will make incisions to “flap” the gums away from the teeth. This provides access to the roots of the teeth and the surrounding bone.The bone is removed using a combination of hand instruments (resembling chisels) and rotary instruments (similar to the drill and burs used to treat cavities).
Once the dentist is satisfied that enough tooth structure is exposed, the surgical area will be washed with sterile salt water and the flaps will be stitched together. At this point, your teeth will look longer because the gums are now sitting at a lower level then before the surgery.
After the soft tissue and bone have been removed, the incisions are sutured. This will cause more of the tooth or teeth to be exposed.
You will be given prescriptions for pain medication and a chlorhexidine mouth rinse. The dentist will review oral-hygiene instructions, and ask you to follow a somewhat soft diet. You can brush the teeth in the area that was worked on, but you should avoid the gums. You can remove food particles around the affected teeth with a toothpick or a water irrigator.