Crown lengthening, also called crown exposure, is needed when a tooth is prepared for a new crown or other restoration. When a crown is lengthened, more of the tooth’s surface is exposed, which helps as an anchor for future restorative work such as crowns and veneers. Gums need at least 2mm of tooth surface between the restoration treatment and the bone to prevent food being trapped and other potential problems. If a tooth is missing in part, or if decay is extensive, there may not be enough tooth structure to work with. This is where crown lengthening is employed to create enough tooth exposure so the restoration isn’t weakened or loses its grip.
If crown lengthening is not performed before a crown is placed, it may sit too far under the gum and close to the bone. Poor placement results in chronic bleeding that can cause a great deal of pain for the patient. Left untreated, bone destruction around the restored tooth can occur. This can cause other extensive periodontal problems.
Crown lengthening is a well-known and relatively common procedure. The procedure can be performed effectively with just a local anesthetic. The patient prepared by numbing the area to be treated and making a small incision around the tooth. Gum tissue is gently pulled back to allow the bone to be reshaped. This is where exposure of tooth/teeth structure takes place. Excess gum tissue is removed to accommodate the new gum and tissue position. The treated area is effectively closed with a suture, which is usually done with dissolvable material. The average procedure takes less than an hour and typically only requires two follow-up visits to ensure proper healing is taking place.
For most patients, crown lengthening doesn’t require additional post-operative care. The slight pain that can accompany the procedure is easily managed with Ibuprofen. While patients are released to return to work and start eating soft foods the day of surgery, full recovery generally takes one or two weeks.