Crown Lengthening

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This is a common dental procedure used to stabalize a dental crown. In order to effectively fill a cavity or fit a crown your dentist needs enough of your tooth above the gum-line to anchor it in place.  If this isn’t possible then they will lengthen the tooth.  It involves cutting the gum back or cutting at the bone beneath the tooth, or both depending on the problem.  Crown lengthening might also be necessary if you lose a crown or a tooth filling but have decay underneath, close to the bottom of the tooth. 

Crown Lengthening Procedure

You will be informed that you need this procedure by your dentist, who will also talk you through all of the steps of crown lengthening. 

  • You will be given a local anaesthetic to the area being treated.  Usually you will have to have surrounding teeth seen to at the same time, so making the time the procedure takes a bit longer than you may think.
  • Any temporary crowns or fittings that you already have will be removed while you undergo the procedure.  They will be replaced afterwards.
  • A periodontist will cut into the gum and pull them back off the teeth.  This will leave roots and bone exposed.
  • Sometime all that is required is for a small amount of gum tissue to be cut away to reveal more of the tooth on the surface. 
  • Usually you will need to have some bone removed from the base of your teeth. 
  • The area will be cleaned using a saline solution.
  • Your gums will be stitched back in place and a periodontal dressing applied.  The problematic cavity will be fitted with either a temporary crown or filling. 

Crown Lengthening Recovery

Your face is likely to swell for two days after crown lengthening surgery, you can use cold compresses on the outside of your mouth to soothe this.  You will have to have prescribed painkillers and use an antiseptic mouthwash after the surgery.  These will be prescribed when you leave the surgery. In about one week you will have the stitches removed, and your periodontist will check on your recovery.  You will also have another check up about a month after the surgery. It is advised that you stick to a soft diet and avoid anything that might irritate the gums, such as spicy or hot foods.  Try to keep your mouth as clean as possible, brushing your teeth as normal if possible.  Regularly rinse your mouth out to dislodge any excess food debris.  It will take 3 or so months for your gums to completely heal after crown lengthening.  Once this has occurred your dentist will fit the crown to the tooth or apply the filling necessary. 

Crown Lengthening Results & Risks

Crown lengthening is usually very effective, and can be the only solution to placing a crown or filling on a tooth.  It is used extensively, and carries very few risks.  Once the crown of filling has been placed you won’t need to have the surgery again, as if there is a problem or you misplace the fitting, it can be reapplied easily.
There are a number of risks associated with crown lengthening.

  • All forms of surgery contain a risk of infection.  It is important that you follow your periodontists advice and maintain as high a standard of oral hygiene as possible.
  • Increased tooth sensitivity to hot or cold foods is one side effect that can occur.  This happens because the root of the tooth has been disrupted.  This ought to calm down after a few weeks.
  • It is possible that the tooth might appear larger than the rest of them.  This is rare and can be rectified.
  • In rare occasions, the tooth being treated could be a lot looser in its socket.  If your tooth does fall out then replacing or having an implant it is a lot more difficult after a crown lengthening procedure.