Modern dentistry has evolved wonderfully, and dentists and periodontists can successfully treat a wide variety of dental conditions. If your dentist recommends a crown lengthening, you may have several questions about the procedure, particularly how long the process might take.
What is crown lengthening?
To understand how long the entire crown lengthening process can be, it’s best first to understand what crown lengthening is. This procedure, which is a minor periodontal surgery, consists in surgically removing part of the gum tissue to expose more of the tooth structure. Sometimes bone may also need to be removed but not always.
The patient is numbed with a high-quality local anesthetic. After the gum tissue and bone are removed, the area is rinsed with a solution, usually sterile salt water. Stitches are used to help the gum keep its new shape, and the entire affected area is covered with a dressing.
Why is it done?
Crown lengthening is recommended in the following circumstances:
- If you need a crown, but there isn’t quite enough tooth (due to injury or decay) to grip onto, crown lengthening allows for the crown to adhere to the more solid tooth. If there is little tooth available and a crown lengthening is not performed, the tooth in question is at risk for fracture and additional future problems.
- For aesthetic reasons: If you have “short teeth” or a “gummy smile,” simply removing a little bit of gum can dramatically improve the appearance of your teeth.
How long does crown lengthening take?
Crown lengthening is not a quick, walk-in walk-out procedure. To get an idea of how long the process lasts, use the following timeline:
- Periodontists review x-rays, install a temporary crown (if necessary), and then schedule the surgery. Surgeries are performed by a periodontist.
- The actual surgery duration will vary based on the number of teeth involved. For instance, crown lengthening on all of your front teeth to treat a gummy smile will take much longer than a crown lengthening on one tooth in need of a crown.
- During the first few days, expect pain and swelling. Ice packs and pain relievers will be a great relief. Opt for soft foods and do not brush the gums. Keeping the area clean and free from food particles will aid in the recovery. A water flosser may be handy during this healing process.
- About 7- 10 days after the surgery, the periodontist will remove the stitches.
- About a month (or even a month and a half) later, a follow-up visit should be scheduled to ensure everything is healing correctly.
- The gums will take about three months to heal. Only once the gums are healed can the tooth be prepped for the permanent crown.
All in all, the process takes a few months from start to finish. If at any point you have questions about the process or how the gums are progressing, don’t hesitate to contact your periodontist or dentist. As always, keep an eye for signs of infection (fever, lingering pain) and continue to practice good oral hygiene.