A generous amount of healthy gum and bone tissue can help keep the teeth firmly anchored in the jaw. However, sometimes people can do with a little less of this tissue, especially when they face a potentially challenging dental procedure or show more gum than teeth when they smile.
Fortunately, a type of oral surgery known as crown lengthening can literally eliminate this obstacle by safely removing just the right amount of tissue to help you address your dental challenge without compromising the stability of your teeth. If you think you might benefit from crown lengthening, check out these frequently asked questions.
When Might Your Dentist Recommend a Crown Lengthening Procedure?
Dentists typically recommend crown lengthening when you need a permanent crown for an especially problematic tooth. A permanent crown strengthens and restores a weak or damaged tooth by capping the entire natural crown of the tooth. Permanent crowns extend almost completely down to the gumline.
Unfortunately, some teeth don’t have enough healthy material to make normal crown attachment possible. You may run into this problem if you’ve lost a lot of tooth material to a fracture or severe decay. In these situations, your dentist may need to expose more of the tooth before preparing it for this kind of restoration.
Crown lengthening may also prove necessary if you suffer from decay or damage (such as a fracture) below the gumline. Your dentist might find it impossible to access the decay and treat it properly without first removing a certain amount of the surrounding gum or bone tissue.
How Does Crown Lengthening Relate to Gum Recontouring?
Gum recontouring, or gingivectomy, involves gum tissue removal to expose more of the crowns of the teeth, making it a kind of crown lengthening procedure. However, this procedure limits itself to the removal of soft tissue. Patients often undergo gingivectomy purely as an elective cosmetic procedure to enhance their smile.
Other forms of crown lengthening surgery may involve removing both soft tissue and bone. For example, in a technique known as apically repositioned flap surgery, the oral surgeon creates a flap of tissue, moves it aside to remove underlying tissues as necessary, and then stitches the flap back into place.
Another kind of crown lengthening procedure, surgical extrusion, involves actually moving the tooth to make damage below the gumline easier to repair. If you undergo this procedure, your oral surgeon will probably splint the treated tooth to a neighboring tooth to keep it stable as you recuperate.
What Can You Expect Before and During a Crown Lengthening Procedure?
Whatever kind of crown lengthening procedure you schedule, your oral surgeon will prepare by taking X-rays of your teeth and jaw, going over your medical history with you, and asking you about any medications you currently take. You may need to stop taking drugs that have a blood-thinning effect or interact with anesthetics.
If you plan to undergo crown lengthening to aid with a permanent crown, your dentist may go ahead and install a temporary crown first. Temporary crowns don’t need to cover as much of the tooth surface as their permanent cousins; they simply protect a weak or damaged tooth in the interim.
When you arrive for crown lengthening surgery, you’ll receive both a sedative to help you relax and a local anesthetic to numb the treatment site. Your oral surgeon will then remove the gum or bone tissue, sterilizing the surgery site before closing it with stitches.
How Can You Optimize your Recuperation From Crown Lengthening Surgery?
Reduce the pain and swelling that accompany crown lengthening surgery with ice and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs. You may also receive prescriptions for stronger painkillers or antibiotics if necessary. Your oral surgeon will recommend that you avoid stressful physical activity for a couple of days.
Steer clear of hot foods and beverages for at least 24 hours following a crown lengthening procedure. Avoid rinsing your mouth with water (which may promote or prolong bleeding) and brushing the unhealed tissues. Your dentist may recommend a special mouth rinse to use instead.
You’ll recuperate more quickly and easily if you take special care when eating and drinking. Confine your diet to soft, bland foods to avoid irritating the tissues as they heal. Steer clear of alcoholic beverages and tobacco products. Don’t use drinking straws, since the negative pressure they create may reinjure your gums.
Although you should start feeling better in a matter of days, the full recovery period for a crown lengthening procedure can take weeks or even months, depending on what kind of procedure you had and what part of your mouth received the procedure. The front of the mouth may take longer to heal than the rear of the mouth.
If you need to make some extra space along your gumline for either cosmetic or functional reasons, turn to the experts at Valley Oak Dental Group. Our experienced team can advise you on the procedure and administer it with the high standard of skill you expect and deserve. Contact our office today.