Crown lengthening is a minor surgery you can get as an outpatient in your dentist’s office. The crown lengthening procedure is performed when you need implants or a new crown and you don’t have enough tooth showing above the gum line to attach the new tooth or your jawbone has shrunk. It’s not a purely cosmetic procedure and may be covered by insurance. There is minor crown lengthening pain following a crown lengthening surgery, but your team at Broadway Family Dental takes care of you to ensure your ultimate comfort both during and after the procedure.
Dentists use crowns regularly to mend or enhance your teeth. Cracked, misshapen or broken teeth often need crowns for strength and protection. Lengthening and reshaping can give you a more pleasing and confident smile. Dentists also place crowns after a root canal procedure, to anchor a bridge or in combination with dental implants.
A crown must have a sufficient amount of tooth material to adhere to or the consequences can be poor oral hygiene, promotion of decay, inflammation or discomfort. If your tooth is broken near or below the gum line or if there’s too much decay, there may not be enough tooth material available to hold the crown properly. In these situations and others, your dentist may recommend a crown lengthening procedure.
The Crown Lengthening Procedure
A common procedure, crown lengthening occurs when your periodontist moves your gum tissue and sometimes a bit of your jawbone to expose more of an existing tooth for crown placement. Depending on how many teeth need altering and whether both gum and bone are recontoured, the procedure usually takes less than an hour and happens in the dentist’s chair on an outpatient basis.
Once he’s taken a thorough medical history, your dentist may take some x-rays or scans to examine your bone and tooth structure. After examining your x-rays and scans, your dentist schedules your crown lengthening surgery. You should expect:
- Local anesthetic with a mild sedative if needed for your comfort
- Removal of any temporary crowns to access the surgical site
- Incisions made in your gum to pull the tissue back from your teeth
- Hard tissue removed from the tooth root or bone if needed
- Soft tissue removal
- Cleansing the area with a saline solution to discourage any bacterial growth
- Stitching gum area into place
- Placing a bandage over the stitches to protect the area during healing
Aftercare for Crown Lengthening Surgery
Knowing what to expect after leaving Broadway Family Dental’s office helps you be prepared while reducing stress during your healing process. Crown lengthening pain is a concern, but you can take prescription pain relievers or over-the-counter pain medicines per your dentist’s orders. Other post-procedure instructions include:
- Use a specialized mouthwash after 24 hours. Your dentist will provide it to you.
- Avoid strenuous activity for three to four days to preserve wound integrity.
- Take antibiotics along with your pain medications if your dentist prescribed them. Finish all the medications as indicated.
- Apply ice packs for the first 24 to 48 hours to reduce swelling and control crown lengthening pain. Alternate 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off for the best results.
- After 48 hours, switch to moist heat to help with pain relief and promote healing.
- Avoid hot foods, alcohol and smoking for the first 24 hours.
- Brush very carefully and gently, avoiding the wound site.
- Leave on any bandages on for seven to 14 days, with a possible replacement once during this time per your dentist’s instructions.
- If slight bleeding continues during the first 48 hours, use a moistened tea bag or moistened gauze.
- If provided a prescription stent or denture, leave in place for the first 24 hours.
- Maintain a soft food diet with plenty of fluids for the first 72 hours, chewing on the opposite side of your mouth when possible.
Don’t inspect or prod the wound. Wait until you visit your dentist to have the stiches removed in seven to 14 days. Full healing takes about three months. You may receive a temporary crown during this time and a permanent crown replacement after healing.
Risks of Crown Lengthening Surgery
Because this is a common procedure and your Broadway Family Dental specialist performs these consistently, the chance of complications is low. As with any procedure, some concerns occasionally occur including infection, excessive bleeding at the surgical site, slightly loose tooth or teeth that should tighten over time and temperature sensitivity because of tooth root exposure. Call your dentist if:
- Bleeding continues.
- You have concerns regarding a possible infection.
- The bandage loosens or falls off.
- Your pain isn’t reduced with medications or increases.
- You notice significant swelling or discharge.
- You observe swelling or tenderness beneath the lower jaw or in your neck.
Crown lengthening procedures commonly provide the best option for crown placement when there isn’t enough tooth substance for adherence. Lengthening not only replaces compromised teeth, but also enhances the aesthetics of your smile, giving you the confidence to return to your healthy, active life.
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