Crown lengthening is one of the less known dental procedures, and that’s because it’s not a common one. Very few people require one, in comparison to more common procedures like root canals or wisdom teeth extraction. The name “crown lengthening” might sound weird for most people, and might lead them to incorrect assumptions: it sounds like it will “stretch” or make the tip of a tooth “bigger”, but in fact this procedure isn’t even done on the tooth: it’s done on the gum!
It is a small dental surgery in which a periodontal specialist surgically removes a few millimetres of your gum and bone where it goes into contact with your tooth. This makes the tooth look longer, which is where the procedure gets its name from. Don’t worry, you will be given local anesthesia, so you won’t feel any pain during the crown lengthening.
The procedure can last less than an hour if it is done on a single tooth, but it will take longer as the amount of teeth to be treated increase.
This is an outpatient procedure, which means that you can walk out of the surgery.
There are two main reasons to need a Crown Lengthening, and both involve having "small teeth":
People who need a crown might need this procedure, most commonly after a root canal or a dental fracture. To place a crown, the tooth must first be filed down or “prepared” to receive it. If your tooth is too small or it was fractured too close to the gum, crown lengthening is needed.
If a crown is placed in these conditions without the lengthening, the crown’s edges will irritate the gum and cause pain and swelling, and it will be easier to be knocked off because it has a very small surface to hold onto.
Once the crown lengthening is done, the tooth is further filed down and the crown is placed. The tooth now looks longer than the rest, this is no problem with molars and premolars but in anterior teeth (frontal teeth) you should think twice, since it might disrupt the harmony of your gum line.
Some people have very small teeth and wish they would look longer, but for some reason or another veneers are not an option. In these cases a person can have a Crown Lengthening done, but this must be evaluated by both their general dentist and the periodontal specialist.
This is a good way for people with “gummy smile”, that is, people who show a lot of gum when smiling, to have a “bigger and wider” smile.
Your recovery will depend on the extent of your surgery, in general it requires 3-6 months to heal completely but only 2 or 3 days of rest are required after the procedure. If your work involves heavy physical activity or prolonged exposure to heat, you may require a couple of days off.
After the procedure you may experience minor swelling, but don’t worry, your doctor will prescribe you anti-inflammatory medication to deal with it. Tylenol and Ibuprofen are the most commonly prescribed medications.
Your teeth and gum will be sensitive in the first days after the procedure, so make sure to have a soft diet and avoid spicy, acid, sticky and very seasoned food, as well as anything with small seeds (strawberries, burger buns, etc.). Also, make sure your food isn’t too hot or too cold. Lastly, try to avoid smoking and drinking alcohol during the first two weeks.
You may experience some minor bleeding in the days after the procedure, but this is completely normal and nothing to be concerned about. Contact your dentist if you experience abundant or constant bleeding.
Your daily brushing and flossing can be done as usual, just making sure to avoid the tooth or teeth that were worked upon.
If you need any kind of prosthesis over those teeth, such as crowns or bridges, you will be asked to wait until you are completely healed to continue the restoration process. This is done to avoid repetitions: your dentist needs to take an impression of your tooth or teeth and that includes the shape of your gum, if your gum was still swollen then the delivered prosthesis will not fit because your gum will “shrink” and leave a gap between your crown or bridge and the current gum level. This may lead to food packing and cavities, sensitivity and other issues, so your dentist will need to take another impression and make another prosthesis.
In short, crown lengthening is a surgical procedure where a bit of your gum is removed in order to give you a more aesthetic appearance or to be able to fit a crown properly. The procedure is relatively quick and you can continue your day normally after the appointment since it uses local anesthesia.
Got any more questions? Call us at Dental Studio and we will gladly answer you!
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