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Andrew Sullivan, DDS & Joel Pascuzzi, DMD, LLC
Specializing in Periodontics
Oral Medicine and Implant Surgery
Call: (201) 437-9098

Crown Lengthening

Crown lengthening is generally performed to improve the health of the gum tissue or to prepare the mouth for restorative or cosmetic procedures.  In addition, crown lengthening procedures can also be used to correct a “gummy” smile, where teeth are covered with excess gum tissue.  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, exposing an aesthetically pleasing smile. 

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 cracked or decayed teeth –  Where teeth have been broken or decayed beneath the gum line, crown lengthening can be used to prepare the area for a new restoration to correct the damaged or decayed teeth.
  • Cosmetic uses – Extra gum tissue can make teeth look unnaturally short and violate the normal proportions of teeth with respect to width and length. Removing excess gum tissue can restore a balanced, healthy look and improve the aesthetic appearance of the smile. 

What does crown lengthening involve?

Crown lengthening is normally performed under local anesthesia. The amount of time this procedure takes will largely depend on how many teeth are involved and whether a small amount of bone needs to be removed along with the soft tissue.  Any existing dental crowns will be removed prior to the procedure and replaced immediately afterwards. 

Your periodontist will make a series of small incisions around the soft tissue 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 provides your periodontist with 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, your 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.

The teeth will look noticeably longer immediately after surgery because the gums will have been repositioned. The teeth will look noticeably longer immediately after surgery because the gums have now been repositioned.

Your periodontist will secure the surgical site using an intraoral (periodontal) bandage, which serves to protect the surgical site.  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.  The surgical site will be completely healed in approximately two to three months.

If you have any questions about crown lengthening, please contact our office.