Dr. David Summerford, DMD of North Alabama Periodontics in Huntsville, ALThe "crown" is the part of a tooth visible above the gumline. Sometimes more of the tooth below the gums must be exposed to fill a cavity near the gumline or place a new crown on a broken tooth. Crown lengthening can be necessary if there isn’t enough of the tooth in place to hold the crown on its own. Teeth that are broken or affected by tooth decay may prohibit a crown from firmly attaching.
Crown lengthening reduces gum tissue and shaves down bone when necessary so more of the tooth is above the gum’s surface. A properly fitted crown allows for better oral hygiene and comfort.
A common use of crown lengthening is to access decay, also known as functional crown lengthening. If the dentist is unable to reach decay that is deep under the gum, the tooth will be lost. As a rule, simply trimming back the gum is not sufficient, as the bone would be exposed. Rather, the periodontists must reflect a flap, trim back the bone to allow for access to the decay and then suture the gum back at the lower level. Sufficient bone must be removed to allow room below the decay for the gum to reattach to the tooth.
Your periodontist will perform the crown lengthening during an outpatient procedure. This means you can go home afterward. The time the procedure takes varies depending on the number of teeth that need the procedure and if both soft tissue and bone need to be removed. If you have a temporary crown on any of your neighboring teeth, your periodontist may remove them before the procedure and replace them afterward.
The recovery time for this procedure is approximately three months. However, you’ll be able to resume normal functions as your gums heal. You only need to avoid strenuous activity for the first two to three days. A physically demanding job, heavy lifting, and heavy exertion could inhibit your healing and cause more bleeding.
Some people also seek crown lengthening to alter a “gummy smile,” in which the gums are visible above the teeth when smiling.