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Functional Crown Lengthening

Crown lengthening is generally performed in order to improve the health of the gum tissue, or to prepare the mouth for restorative or cosmetic procedures.  Crown lengthening exposes more of the natural tooth by reshaping or recontouring bone and gum tissue.  This treatment can be performed on a single tooth, many teeth or the entire gum line.

Reasons for crown lengthening

Crown lengthening is a versatile and common procedure that has many effective uses and benefits.  The vast majority of patients who have undergone this type of surgery are highly delighted with the results.

Here are some of the most common reasons for crown lengthening:

  • Restoration of damaged teeth – Periodontal disease can cause severe damage to the teeth, as can trauma and decay.  Where teeth have been broken beneath the gum line, crown lengthening can be used to prepare the area for a new restoration to correct the damaged teeth.
  • Dental crowns – Crown lengthening serves to provide more space between the supporting jawbone and dental crown.  This prevents the new crown from damaging gum tissues and bone once it is in place.

What does crown lengthening involve?

Crown lengthening is normally performed under local anesthetic utilizing oral sedation.  The amount of time this procedure takes will largely depend in how many teeth are involved and whether a small amount of bone needs to be removed, in addition to the soft tissue. 

A series of small incisions around the soft tissue are performed in order to separate the gums away from the teeth.  Even if only one tooth requires the re-contour, neighboring teeth are usually treated to provide a more even reshaping.  Separating the gums allows access to the roots of the teeth and the underlying bone.

In some cases, the removal of a small amount of tissue will provide enough tooth exposure to place a crown.  In other cases, the dentist will also need to remove a small amount of bone from around the teeth.  The bone is usually removed using a combination of special hand instruments, and rotary instruments.  The rotary instruments roughly resemble the drill that is used in cavity treatment.

Self-dissolving sutures (stitches) are then placed to reposition the gum tissue. The teeth will look slightly longer immediately after surgery because the gums have now been repositioned.

Prescriptions may be provided for pain medication, and a chlorhexidine (antimicrobial) mouth rinse may be given to help reduce any bacteria attempting to re-colonize.  A post-surgical appointment is made to check the surgical site in 10-24 days.  Restorative treatment with the general dentist can be performed 4-6 weeks after the surgery is performed.

If you have any questions about the benefits of functional crown lengthening, please contact us.

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