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Crown Lengthening

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Crown Lengthening 1 showing the concept of Crown Lengthening

Crown lengthening is a restorative and cosmetic dental treatment that removes excess gum tissue in order to properly contour teeth. In some cases, bone tissue may also be removed to properly expose the tooth’s surface. It is called crown lengthening because removing gum tissue makes the crown, or visible portion of the teeth appear longer. This procedure can be performed on a single tooth or several teeth to obtain the desired results. 

Did You Know?

The term “gummy smile” is used to describe an excess of gum tissue that makes the teeth look like they are too small. While gummy smiles can affect the visual aesthetics of your smile, they can also make your teeth difficult to keep clean and trap bacteria, which will increase your risk of tooth decay and gum disease. 

Frequently Asked Questions:

Am I a candidate for crown lengthening?

Woman with gummy smile

You may be a candidate for crown lengthening if you have a “gummy smile” that makes your teeth appear to be too small for your mouth. You may also be a candidate for crown lengthening if you are having a dental crown or cap placed on its own or as part of a dental bridge, dental implant, or after a root canal. To find out if you are an ideal for a crown lengthening, schedule a consultation with Dr. Kevin H. Speer today

What are the benefits of crown lengthening?

The main benefit of crown lengthening is that by removing extra gum tissue, more of the natural tooth structure is exposed and able to be properly maintained. This will decrease the risk of developing tooth decay and other future dental issues. In addition to the oral health benefits, crown lengthening can also offer cosmetic benefits by improving the aesthetics of your smile. Another main benefit of crown lengthening is that it only needs to be performed once to be effective and does not require any future touch-ups. 

What are the drawbacks of crown lengthening?

The main drawbacks of crown lengthening is the cost and the fact that is a surgery and will require a recovery period ranging from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the severity of the procedure. Additionally, there is the risk of excessive bleeding, infection, and tooth sensitivity. Most of these risks are rare and can be significantly decreased by following the post-operative instructions. 

What can I expect when undergoing crown lengthening at Oak Grove Dental Center?

Patient sleeping calmly in the dentist chair

Before actually undergoing the procedure, you will need to come into our office for a pre-operative appointment. During this appointment, we will take dental x-rays and discuss your procedure. We will also ask you about your medical history and list of current medications. In some cases, you may need to temporarily stop taking some medications to prepare for your procedure. In other cases, especially if you are at an increased risk for infection, you may be given additional medications to take before your procedure to decrease your risk of infection. Depending on your treatment plan, your sedation options may be discussed as well and you may receive possible fasting guidelines and instructions to obtain a driver to bring you to and from your appointment. 

The day of your procedure, your mouth will be anesthetized with a local anesthetic and you will likely be sedated. The combination of the two means that you will be relaxed and pain-free throughout the entire procedure. To start the procedure, Dr. Speer will remove the excess gum tissue using his Solea® dental laser until the proper amount of natural tooth structure is visible. In some cases, bone tissue may also be removed during this process. Once all the gum tissue has been removed, the remaining tissue will be flushed with salt water to clean and soothe the tissue. Finally, the gums will be sutured up. The length of your procedure will depend upon the extent of the procedure, however most crown lengthening procedures last for about 30 minutes to an hour. 

Will I have any post-operative guidelines to follow after my crown lengthening procedure?

Woman holding an ice pack to her cheek

Yes, and it is important that you follow these guidelines to decrease the risk of complications and minimize your recovery time. After your procedure, you will be given specific post-operative guidelines. To give you an idea, these guidelines generally revolve around pain management, temporary dietary restrictions, taking antibiotics, keeping the treatment site clean, and avoiding strenuous activity for the first few days following the procedure. 

In the first few days after your procedure, you can expect to be sore and swollen. To manage this, we recommend taking pain medication before your anesthetic wears off and then regularly after that. You can also use ice to help relieve swelling and discomfort. During these first few days, you will also want to avoid hot foods because they can cause bleeding. Instead, it is recommended to eat cool, soft foods because the are soothing and will prevent damage to the treatment site. Once your sutures are removed, Dr. Speer will gradually progress you back to your usual diet. 

How long is the recovery for a crown lengthening procedure?

The exact length of your recovery can vary depending on a number of different factors. In most cases, your stitches will be removed within 7-10 days of your procedure. If you are having a dental restoration placed, however, it cannot be placed until your gums are completely healed. The general rule is that it takes about three months for the gums to be considered completely healed and ready to accommodate a dental restoration. 

How much does crown lengthening cost and does insurance cover crown lengthening?

The average cost of crown lengthening is about $1,000-$4,000. If the procedure is part of restorative dental treatment or is being performed for any type of medical reason, your dental insurance plan may offer partial coverage to offset the cost. However, if the procedure is performed purely as a cosmetic dental treatment, it is highly unlikely that your dental insurance plan will provide coverage. 

At Oak Grove Dental Center, we believe that providing high quality dentistry is only part of creating a successful relationship with our patients. To experience some of the best dental care in Milwaukie, schedule a consultation with Dr. Kevin H. Speer today!