Crown lengthening may be done for purely aesthetic purposes (to cure that “gummy” smile), but it’s usually done in conjunction with other dental procedures, like putting in a filling or a dental crown, to make those procedures easier.
Preparing for Crown Lengthening Surgery
Before you can safely get a crown lengthening operation done, you need to visit an experienced periodontist for a pre-op exam. He or she will review your medical and dental history, take a few X rays, and maybe clean your teeth and gums before setting your surgery date.
In some cases, if you are eventually planning to get a permanent dental crown on a tooth that may be cracked or badly worn, your periodontist will place a temporary crown on the tooth at this point.
The temporary crown gives a visual reference point for the periodontist so he/she will know what the final product will look like. A permanent crown might not be placed until a few months after your gum surgery – giving your periodontal tissue time to heal.
The Surgery Itself
When you come in for the actual crown lengthening surgery, you will first of all be given a local anesthetic. You may want oral dental sedation as well if you tend to get nervous in the dental chair, but that is optional.
Sometimes, only a single tooth is having the gums scaled back (“crown lengthened”), or it could be your whole mouth. But even with one tooth, the neighboring gum line will also have to be adjusted to keep the line looking natural and not take “sudden dives.”
In many cases, a little bone from around the base of your tooth also has to be removed in order to adjust the height of your crown. A skilled periodontist will know when to remove bone, precisely where, and exactly how much.
Incisions must be made to loosen the periodontal tissue so it can be pulled back from the teeth and then shortened as needed. Enough gum-tooth overlap (at least 2 mm) must be left, however, to protect your oral health.
At surgery’s end, the affected area is washed in sterile salt water, and sutures and/or dental bandages are used to help your gums heal.
If you have a temporary crown on the relevant tooth, it has to be removed before the surgery and then placed back on afterwards.
Your periodontist will give you some kind of pain relief medication and a special mouthwash to use post-op. You’ll also need to stay on a soft diet for a while and be very careful brushing around the still-healing tooth and gums.
It may take several months for your gums to fully heal, and you’ll notice your gums shrink a bit as they heal (this is normal).
You may need to see your periodontist again in a week or two to remove the sutures, and for a follow up visit 4 to 6 weeks later.
To learn more about how crown lengthening surgery works, contact Dr. Kenzik in Ormond Beach, FL, today!