There are multiple reasons for crown lengthening, but most of the time it is performed to expose more tooth structure to facilitate restoration of a tooth. Often times a cavity or tooth fracture can extend below the gum line or even below the level of bone. In order to properly restore those teeth, we have to make sure the decay is removed, and the gum tissue and bone are in the proper position to maintain long term health and stability.
Crown lengthening is performed under local anesthesia (getting numb). Once the numbness kicks in, the gum tissue is gently elevated to expose underlying bone. The bone is then contoured to provide enough room for the restorative material (a filling or crown) and allow the soft tissue enough space to properly re-attach to the tooth. The soft tissue is repositioned and held in place by a stitch that will dissolve on its own. The area can be a bit sore for the first few days, but most people experience only minimal discomfort.
The crown lengthening procedure can also be useful in treating the “gummy smile.” For a variety of reasons, people can show more gum tissue than what would be considered ideal. There are also times teeth can appear short or square. In those situations, we can often lengthen the teeth to significantly improve the way things look and make things easier to clean and maintain.