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Is Crown Lengthening The Right Choice?

Dental instruments and tools in a dentists officeCrown lengthening is a procedure some dentists choose to do for their patients, although many refer patients to a periodontist instead for this process.  Crown lengthening involves removing gum tissue and bone around the tooth socket to expose more of the tooth. When there is sufficient tooth and bone structure available, crown lengthening can be an effective way to expose enough of the sound tooth for prosthetic restoration.

However, there are challenges with this procedure.  There are often variations in the height of the tooth after removal of tissue and bone, and these variations can affect the success of the procedure.  If not enough tooth is exposed, it can lead to a failed crown attachment or pain.

In addition, removing bone for a crown lengthening procedure can damage the bony support of adjacent teeth, and bone removal may prevent using a dental implant in the future, should the crown fail.

An alternative to surgical crown lengthening can be orthodontic forced eruption, or using orthodontics to move the tooth upward so that more surface is exposed (similar to using braces to move teeth into proper position).  This procedure is simple and non-invasive, and it doesn’t require the removal of bone.  In forced eruption, the tooth is extruded to expose more surfaces by bracketing adjacent teeth and using light force.  The procedure is cost effective and typically takes a couple of months.  In this case, an orthodontic solution can be preferable to a periodontal one.

And should the eruption procedure not work as hoped, your dentist can still provide other options to correct the problem.

Have specific questions about this blog post, or about other methods of saving a tooth with a crown or other prosthetic?  Use the “Ask the Expert” feature on our website, and we’ll respond promptly.

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