Crown lengthening: what is it and what are its risks?

Crown lengthening is a surgical technique in which more tooth surface is exposed creating a longer crown. The dentist removes the gum and, in some cases, also the bone to expose more teeth.

It can be used for cosmetic purposes or to restore problem teeth under gum tissue. Here we tell you what this intervention is about, how it is done, its risks and what care to take for a successful result.

What is crown lengthening?

Crown lengthening is a dental treatment that consists of increasing the visible tooth surface in the mouth through surgery. The dentist contours and removes gingiva. Sometimes bone is also removed to expose areas of the tooth that are covered.

This procedure may be necessary for clinical purposes, to correctly perform a caries treatment, for example, or to place a crown. The reason can also be aesthetic, in order to improve gummy smiles.

What is the purpose of this procedure?

As we mentioned, crown lengthening may be necessary to treat cavities or to place artificial crowns in areas of the tooth that are below the gum. In these cases, exposure of healthy surfaces that support the restoration or crown is necessary.

Excess gingival tissue is removed and, if necessary, bone as well. In this way, a healthy tooth remains that can support the crown to be cemented or the filling. This allows a better adaptation of the restorations, more comfort for the patient and adequate oral hygiene in the area.

Crown lengthening is also a treatment of choice in cases of gummy smiles. When the gums are seen in excess of the teeth in the act of smiling, removing the excess gum tissue is a solution.

Crown lengthening may be necessary to treat a cavity or to place an artificial crown.

Read also: What is the gummy smile and how is it treated?

How to prepare for a crown lengthening?

Before performing a crown lengthening it is appropriate to have previous appointments with the dentist who will perform the intervention to plan the treatment plan. An adequate medical history, a thorough oral examination and X-rays of the area to be intervened will be necessary.

The surgeon will indicate if any habitual medication should be suspended or if prior medication should be received due to the health condition itself. In addition, in the event that the surgery is performed for the placement of artificial crowns, temporary crowns must be made to protect the carved tooth and facilitate the adjustment of the new prosthetic restoration.

What is done in a crown lengthening procedure?

Surgical intervention is performed on an outpatient basis and under local anesthesia. The duration depends on the number of dental elements that the procedure needs and if it is required to remove only gingival tissue or gum and bone.

The dentist cuts the gums and separates them from the teeth, exposing the roots and surrounding bone. Then the gingival and bone tissue is removed, according to the need of each case.

If surgery is done to repair a cavity that was under the gum or place a crown, the necessary procedures are performed. The surgical site is then washed, the gingiva is positioned and sutured.

Sometimes a bandage is needed to add protection. The dentist will indicate some care, such as the use of painkillers, a soft diet and mouthwashes to help recovery.

Possible risks

Although it is a simple surgery, like any surgical act it presents certain risks and complications. The wound can become infected, so it is necessary to comply with all the instructions of the surgeon to prevent this complication.

Also, bleeding may occur at the surgery site. The sensitivity of the dental elements to cold and heat is usually common, although it eases with the passage of time.

In cases where bone tissue is removed, the tooth may be left mobile. Also, the operated tooth may appear longer than the others. If the intervened tooth is lost in the future, placing an implant in place can be difficult.

The care after the intervention is minimal, but its application reduces subsequent complications.

It may interest you: What is gum loss?

Tips for the recovery process

Tissue recovery after surgery is usually gradual and will take approximately 3 months. Anyway, some special care must be taken the days immediately after the procedure. Here we mention some of them:

  • Avoid physical activity or exertion: This can disrupt the healing process or cause bleeding.
  • Take the medication indicated by the surgeon: the use of anti-inflammatories at regular intervals will help to cope with the pain caused by the intervention. The dentist may also order antibiotics.
  • Place cold in the area: Using an ice pack in the first hours after surgery can help decrease swelling.
  • Soft and cold diet: Avoid very hot foods or foods that require a lot of chewing effort. Light and cold foods such as yogurt and ice cream promote recovery. It is important that the patient remains well hydrated.
  • Sanitize the mouth with care: brushing should be continued, but with gentle and careful movements. Do not rinse or swish.
  • Leave the dressings on: in the event that the surgeon has placed a bandage, they should not be removed. They are left in for 7 to 14 days and the professional may replace them.
  • Avoid smoking and drinking alcoholic beverages: the first days after surgery.
  • Wearing false teeth or stent: If the dentist indicated the use of the prosthesis or a stent transparent, it should not be removed in the first 24 hours.
  • Do not traumatize the area: Avoid injuring the wound by using tools such as straws, brushing roughly, playing with your tongue or fingers, or checking the wound by pulling your lips.
  • Go to the controls: a week, the professional will remove the stitches and check the patient's progress.

Simple surgery

Crown lengthening is a simple surgery that can provide dental or aesthetic solutions. Following the instructions of the dentist who plans and performs the treatment is essential for the success of the intervention. This will achieve a healthy result for the mouth with a fairly accessible and simple treatment.