Dental crowns are a form of dental restoration that covers or “caps” one or more teeth. Crowns aim to restore teeth to their normal shape and size and to strengthen them. Crowns also have an aesthetic function, as they improve the appearance of teeth.
Sometimes there might not be enough of the original tooth structure above the gum line to safely and securely place a crown. In those situations, crown lengthening can resolve that issue by enabling more of the tooth’s structure below the gum line to get exposed.
Why is dental crown lengthening needed?
Dental crown lengthening can be necessary for some patients when dental crowns cannot be held on their own. Examples of where crown lengthening is needed include teeth that are broken, and teeth affected by tooth decay.
What would happen if dental crown lengthening didn’t get carried out in those cases? The answer is simple: the crown would end up coming off the tooth in question. As you can imagine, that’s something you wouldn’t want to happen.
At New Dimension Dentistry, we can carry out crown lengthening on one or more teeth where it’s unlikely a crown on its own will permanently stay affixed to the teeth in question.
Another reason why you might want crown lengthening is to raise the gum line for aesthetic purposes. Aesthetic crown lengthening is ideal if your teeth look stubby or short.
Dr. Doris Giraldo and our friendly team would carry out a comprehensive exam of your teeth to ensure you meet the criteria for crown lengthening, be it for functional or aesthetic reasons.
How does dental crown lengthening work?
As you can appreciate, each patient we treat has a different set of requirements for dental treatment. When attending an appointment at New Dimension Dentistry, it might get determined that your teeth don’t require crown lengthening.
But should it be determined that you do need crown lengthening, you will no doubt know what will happen in the procedure. It’s important to note that the procedure in its entirety typically takes less than an hour for Dr. Giraldo to complete.
The crown lengthening procedure only focuses on the tooth or teeth in question and the surrounding gums and bones. At the beginning of the crown lengthening procedure, you’ll either get administered sedatives or a local anesthetic for pain relief.
Once the sedatives or local anesthetic begin to take effect, Dr. Giraldo will start the procedure using specialized surgical instruments. Dr. Giraldo uses those tools to re-contour all underlying gum tissue and bones surrounding the focused teeth.
After that work gets carried out, Dr. Giraldo will use dissolvable sutures and protective bandages on the now-exposed tooth structure. Doing so ensures that the gum tissue gets stabilized. Dr. Giraldo may fit a temporary crown to protect your teeth temporarily.
You’ll also get prescribed some pain relief to use as the sedatives or anesthetic wears off. And you’ll typically be given a specialized mouth rinse that will help your gums heal quickly and reduce the risk of infection.
Once your newly-exposed teeth have healed, you’ll get invited back to New Dimension Dentistry for a follow-up appointment. The purpose is to check your gum tissue has sufficiently healed. In most cases, your new crowns can also get fitted at the same time.
What are the benefits of dental crown lengthening?
There are two reasons why you might need (or want) crown lengthening. The first is for functional purposes, while the second is to do with aesthetics:
Functional crown lengthening
If you’ve got one or more teeth severely decayed or damaged, Dr. Giraldo may suggest you need crown lengthening. With functional crown lengthening, crowns will have a better fit on your teeth to achieve the best tooth restoration results.
Here are some examples of why you might need functional crown lengthening when you require dental crowns:
- You have fractured, cracked, or significantly chipped teeth;
- Tooth decay has extended into your gum line.
Aside from achieving the perfect fit, dental crown lengthening helps prevent bacteria from building up in the space between the crown and the tooth.
Aesthetic crown lengthening (gum lifts)
Dr. Giraldo also carries out aesthetic crown lengthening or “gum lifts” to help her patients achieve a brilliant smile. Some people find they have a “gummy smile” – this is where they have excess gum tissue covering their teeth.
If you’ve got small, stubby teeth, aesthetic crown lengthening is the perfect way to remove that excess gum tissue. Aesthetics aside, it’s also an excellent way to reduce the risk of hidden teeth decay in the future.
A gum lift is a procedure that can get carried out on one or more teeth to help you achieve a brilliant, more confident smile.
Are there any risks?
As you know, there are risks when having any surgical procedures carried out. The good news is the risk of anything adverse happening from crown lengthening is low.
In worst-case scenarios, patients may get an infection after the procedure. The risk of infection can be minimized by following all dental care instructions from our team after your procedure with Dr. Giraldo.
Some patients may experience sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures. However, that sensitivity will ease with time.
How long is the healing process?
For most people, the overall healing and recovery process is approximately three months. During the first two to three days after crown lengthening, you will need to avoid any strenuous activity.
If your work involves heavy lifting or heavy exertion, it makes sense to stay at home for those two to three days. Otherwise, you may experience more bleeding from your gums, and it could result in delays in the healing process.
Aside from taking the prescribed pain relief and antibiotics that are given to you from Dr. Giraldo, there are other things you can do as part of the healing process. Examples include:
- Avoiding hot food for the first 24 hours;
- Leaving dressings in place for one to two weeks after the procedure;
- Gently brush your teeth each day.
Contact us if you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment for treatment.