What is a Crown Lengthening?
Crown lengthening is a common periodontal surgical procedure which is done to elongate or show more of the crown of the tooth. The crown of the tooth is the part which shows above the gum line. In the crown lengthening procedure, the periodontist removes gum and/or bone tissue to expose more of the crown.
When is Crown Lengthening Needed?
Dental crown lengthening is needed for a few different reasons:
Functional Crown Lengthening
Crown lengthening is needed when cavities and decay go too deep under the gum, close to the bone, and/or when the remaining tooth is very short. These conditions don’t allow for enough tooth for a new crown restoration to grab onto. If the periodontist were to place the restoration without attaching it next to the bone, deep under the gum, it will cause inflammation and uncontrolled bone loss.
Sometimes when a tooth fractures too close or below the gumline, crown lengthening can be used to prevent the need for a tooth extraction. In this case, the gum line and/or bone is resected to expose more tooth for the periodontist to be able to place a new crown.
Esthetic Crown Lengthening
Some people have a lot of tissue in the gum area of their upper teeth. This is sometimes called a “gummy smile.” Esthetic crown lengthening, also known as cosmetic crown lengthening, seeks to treat this condition by removing some of the gum tissue to expose more of the tooth. Elongating the exposed tooth makes the tooth size seem more normal and natural and allows for a great smile.
Many patients also explain this as having “tiny teeth”, which may be the case visually but not structurally. Large or elongated gums can be hiding part of the base of the tooth. A cosmetic crown lengthening can help address this and provide a more pleasing smile be exposing more of the teeth.
How To Prepare
Before a tooth lengthening an evaluation and overview with Dr. Kim will be discussed to prepare for the procedure…
- A comprehensive dental exam will be done including dental X-rays taken and models made of your teeth and mouth. You also may need a special type of computed tomography (CT) scan, that will allow the dentist to accurately measure the height and width of your existing bone to evaluate the health of your teeth and jaw bone.
- Treatment plan. 212 Smiling will tailor a treatment plan to account all factors of the procedure. If the surgery is invasive we will take into account the factors and the procedure with a timely thought out plan. This will include a walkthrough of the procedure, a step by sept treatment guide and a follow up an appointment if needed.
Make sure to tell your doctor about any medical conditions and any medications you take, including prescription and over-the-counter drugs and supplements. If you have heart conditions or orthopedic implants, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics before surgery to help prevent infection.
Anesthesia may be used to control the pain during your procedure. The 212 Smiling team will instruct you about eating and drinking before surgery, depending on the type of anesthesia. If general anesthesia is used, someone will have to assist you home after surgery and expect to rest for the day.
What Should I Expect During the Procedure?
Local anesthesia and/or sedative is usually administered to patients for the procedure. Once pain is managed, the periodontist will remove part of the gums to pull them away from the teeth, exposing the roots and bone. Once exposed, the surgeon flushes the area with saline solution before stitching the gums back together. Once back together, a bandage is sometimes placed over the affected area to supply some more protection.
What’s Recovery Like for the Surgical Procedure?
The time for full recovery for this procedure can take up to three months. This may seem long, but you’ll resume everyday functions in a shorter period of time as your gums begin the healing process quickly. Strenuous activity needs to be avoided for the first 2 to 3 days after surgery.
Please talk to your dentist about your specific recovery. In general, follow these guidelines:
- Take OTC or prescription medication: Aftercare instructions will probably instruct patients to take ibuprofen or Tylenol at regular intervals. In some cases, the surgeon may prescribe antibiotics, as well as extra-strength painkillers.
- Use an ice pack: Icing your face with an ice pack for the first few hours after surgery may help reduce swelling.
- Avoid hot foods for the first 24 hours: May cause gum bleeding to last longer.
- Don’t rinse your mouth: May cause gum bleeding to last longer.
- Leave dressings in for 7 to 14 days: The dressing may be replaced by the doctor once or twice during the initial 7 to 14 days.
- Brush carefully: Gently brush only the biting surfaces near the dressed area. Brush and floss normally in other areas.
- Eat soft foods: Avoid the surgical area when you eat. Also, don’t eat anything hard, brittle, acidic, spicy, sticky, or highly seasoned. Avoid nuts and small seeds.
- Avoid alcohol: Do not drink until after your post-op appointment.
- Avoid smoking: Do not smoke for the first 7 to 10 days or longer post-op.
- Avoid prodding the area: Avoid using straws and playing with the surgical site with your tongue or finger. Don’t pull down your lip to check the site, as the pressure can cause damage.
If you are looking to lengthen your teeth and are ready for that smile upgrade! Call 212-SMILING today for a consultation with our friendly doctors!