With all of the dental procedures out there, it can be difficult to figure out what is what. One such procedure that, while a common surgical procedure, is sometimes unknown to the general public (unless you or someone you know have had one) is dental crown lengthening.
What is Dental Crown Lengthening?
Dental crown lengthening is a procedure that is done whenever a tooth needs to be fixed, but not enough of the tooth’s surface sticks out above the gum. If there’s not enough tooth exposed above the gum, there’s not enough support for a filling or a crown. In order to make sure that a filling or crown will properly adhere to your tooth, a dentist will need to expose more of the tooth by removing part of the gum tissue (and sometimes even the bone). This process is what is known as dental crown lengthening.
Additionally, this procedure is also done as a cosmetic procedure to correct “gummy smile”, a condition where patients have excess gum tissue exposed on the upper teeth, leaving a lot of gum exposed when they open their mouth or smile.
Dental Crown Lengthening Procedure
Prior to the procedure, the patient will consult with a periodontist who will examine the patient’s medical history, X-rays and determine the overall health for the patient prior to the procedure. Should the tooth require a crown, the dentist may wish to put a temporary crown until the procedure is done in order to protect the tooth. By doing this, it can also help the lengthening procedure by showing the periodontist how much tissue or bone is needed to be removed.
The procedure is done using local anesthetic only and how long the procedure will take depends on the number of teeth that need to be treated and whether bone will also need to be removed, in addition to soft tissue. Even if only one tooth needs to be fixed, the neighboring teeth typically are treated and/or affected as well. Ant temporary crowns will be removed prior to the procedure and will be put back on at the conclusion of the surgery.
During the procedure itself, the periodontist will make incisions to pull the gums away from the teeth and expose the root and surrounding bone. For some patients, simply removing some of the gum tissue will expose enough of the tooth needed in order to fix it. However, in most cases, there’s bone that surrounds the roots of the teeth that needs to be removed.
Once enough tooth is exposed so that the dentist can properly fix the tooth, the periodontist will sterilize the area with salt water and stitch the gums together.
Following surgery, the area around the tooth and the mouth will be swollen. Applying ice to the side of the face and cheek within the first few hours of surgery will help to reduce the swelling. Prescription pain medication will be provided to help manage the pain and a mouth rinse to help reduce any potential infection. To avoid potentially disturbing or ripping the stitches out, a semi-soft food diet is recommended and careful brushing, avoiding the gums, will be necessary until the stitches are removed.
Approximately 7 to 10 days following the surgery, the stitches can be removed and a follow-up appointment is typically recommended anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks following the removal of the stitches.
It can take up to 3 months to fully heal from the dental crown lengthening procedure. Dentists typically do not recommend rushing to get the tooth fixed following the procedure, as gums can swell quite a bit and it is important to ensure that all swelling has gone down and any shrinkage in the gums is complete. Once the tooth and surrounding gums are ready, the dentist can then apply the crown or filling to repair the tooth.
Periodontist in Los Angeles
You may not know if you need to fix a tooth unless you get a dental check-up! It is far better to fix a tooth early on than waiting until it hurts or the damage is so great that you need medical attention. If you are in need of a periodontist in Los Angeles and haven’t scheduled your dental check-up this year, contact our friendly dental team at (213)250-7554 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an appointment with us today!