What is a Crown?

What is a crown?

Before we can explain crown lengthening, it’s important for you to understand the various ways that dentists use the term “crown.” First, we use that term to describe an anatomical portion of a tooth. The crown of the tooth is the area covered by enamel and, in a perfectly healthy mouth, is protruding from the gums for normal functioning. 

We also use the term crown to describe the dental treatment that replaces diseased or defective enamel with a restorative material like metal or porcelain. Many people use the term “cap” to describe this type of crown. Crowns are necessary to restore a tooth to natural form and function when decay, fracture, or extreme wear break down significant amounts of tooth structure.

What is Crown Lengthening?

Crown lengthening is a surgical procedure used to expose more of the tooth for either cosmetic or restorative reasons. It requires the removal of both gum tissue and the underlying bone to produce the desired result. Crown lengthening is only an option for patients with healthy gums and sufficient supporting bone surrounding the teeth.

The goal of crown lengthening surgery is either to create a better cosmetic appearance. It leads to more successful and sustainable dental treatment when crown lengthening prepares a tooth for restoration with a dental crown.

Why do Teeth Need Crown Lengthening?

There are two reasons for exposing more of a tooth with a crown lengthening procedure. One is cosmetic, and the other is to provide access for a dental restoration.

Cosmetic Reasons

Some people have a “gummy” smile. This means you see a noticeable length of pink gum tissue between the top of their upper front teeth and the upper lip. Many cases of gummy smiles consist of teeth that remain covered by healthy bone and gum tissue. This typically causes a “short” look to the front teeth in addition to the appearance of too much gum tissue. There are also unhealthy cases in which the excessive gum tissue is diseased or the upper jaw is too long. These are not cases for clinical crown lengthening.

When there is too much healthy bone and gum tissue covering enamel, crown lengthening is the procedure to correct this problem and improve your smile. This surgical procedure exposes the anatomical crown of the tooth. Usually, cosmetic crown lengthening addresses multiple front teeth at once.

Restorative Reasons

Crown lengthening surgery can also prepare individual teeth for a necessary dental restoration. The most common reason for this type of crown lengthening is tooth decay that extends underneath the gums and gets very close to the bone. Your dentist needs to remove this decay and restore the tooth to health, but cannot access it. The periodontist removes the bone and gum tissue, creating a new relationship with the tooth that will allow your dentist to successfully restore the tooth.

There are two important results of crown lengthening of this type. The dentist can access the furthest reaches of decay and provide a dental restoration that perfectly meets the prepared tooth. Also, the patient is then able to reach the edge of the dental work in order to keep it clean.

Does Crown Lengthening Hurt?

During the actual procedure, you should feel no discomfort at all. We use local anesthetic to ensure that the surgical site is completely numb. We also offer sedation to alleviate anxiety about dental treatment.

After the procedure is complete, you may experience tenderness in the treated gum, bone, and teeth. Some tooth sensitivity is normal. Your periodontist will give you explicit post-operative instructions, which will help you manage any discomfort after the procedure.

How Long is the Recovery from Crown Lengthening?

It’s important to allow the gums and bone at least four to six weeks for complete healing before any further dental work takes place. When your periodontist performs a crown lengthening procedure to prepare your tooth for a dental restoration, he will release you back to your general dentist for the final dental work. In most cases, this takes four to six weeks. Some cases may require a longer healing period. 

Similarly, when your periodontist performs cosmetic crown lengthening, he will release you back to normal brushing, flossing and eating when the gums show complete healing. If your cosmetic crown lengthening is to prepare you for porcelain veneers, your periodontist will communicate with your dentist when you’re ready for the continued cosmetic work.

Periodontal Specialists at Rockland Dental Specialists

Rockland Dental Specialists offers expert dental care in the New City, NY area. Dr. Lisa Nava Cohen and Dr. Shalom Mintz are here to bring you the oral care possible with their more than two decades of combined experience. They are passionate about helping patients maintain their overall oral health. Contact us today at 845-259-2500 to speak with one of our team members about the services we offer or book an appointment online here.


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