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Signs You Need a Crown Lengthening

Your teeth are more than just a smile — they’re vital indicators of your overall health. Among the many dental procedures available, crown lengthening is one procedure you might be unfamiliar with. But it is crucial to dental well-being. 

If you’re wondering whether it’s time to explore this treatment option — we’ve got you covered. Here are seven tell-tale signs that it’s time to get this dental procedure.

What Is Dental Crown Lengthening?

Dental crown lengthening is a dental procedure professionals perform to expose a more significant amount of tooth structure. Often, the process is necessary when a tooth needs to be fixed, and there isn’t enough of it visible above the gum line. 

In short, it ‘lengthens’ the crown, the visible part of the tooth, by reducing or reshaping the gum tissue and sometimes the bone around it. This procedure can be required for various reasons, from preparing the tooth for restoration to improving gum health. 

Why is it Needed?

The need for this dental procedure can arise for several reasons. The most common is to prepare a tooth for a dental crown or bridge. If a tooth is too short or broken below the gum line, there might not be enough support for the restoration, making it unstable or leading to decay under the crown. 

This dental procedure can also be utilized for cosmetic purposes. For instance, you can improve a “gummy” smile where the teeth appear shorter due to excessive gum tissue.

How to Know You Need Crown Lengthening? 

Understanding the signs that you might need this dental procedure is crucial to prevent potential dental issues or correct existing ones.

You’re Experiencing Tooth Decay Below Your Gum Line

Tooth decay can sometimes extend below the gum line, a place not easily accessible during regular dental procedures. Such damage poses significant problems because it can lead to severe pain, infection, and tooth loss.

In these situations, lengthening your dental crown becomes necessary, allowing your dentist to reach and adequately treat the degraded areas.

Inadequate Tooth Structure for Restoration

Suppose your tooth has been damaged by trauma or severe decay. In that case, it might not have sufficient structure above the gum line to support procedures such as crowns or bridges. 

Crown lengthening is a vital preparatory step that ensures enough tooth structure to anchor the restoration securely, promoting a successful, lasting repair.

Dental Crown or Bridge Failure

Occasionally, a dental crown or bridge may fail. This failure can occur due to an ill fit, inadequate tooth structure, or further decay. Lengthening your crown can correct these issues by providing more tooth surfaces for the crown or bridge to grasp, reducing the risk of another failure.

Gingival Hyperplasia (Gum Overgrowth)

Gum overgrowth or enlargement, or Gingival Hyperplasia, can occur due to certain medications, genetic factors, or poor oral hygiene. This condition can make oral hygiene more challenging and lead to other dental problems if not addressed. 

Lengthening your dental crown can reduce the overgrown gum tissue, restoring a healthy, balanced gum line.

Uneven Gum Line

An uneven gum line may not directly threaten oral health but can significantly impact your smile’s aesthetics. If you feel self-conscious about your gum line, this cosmetic procedure can help. 

After all, it can reshape your gums to achieve a more pleasing, symmetrical appearance.

Tooth Fracture Below the Gum Line

A tooth fracture that extends below the gum line can be challenging to treat due to limited access and visibility. However, neglecting such a fracture can lead to severe dental complications. 

This cosmetic dental procedure comes to the rescue by exposing more of the tooth, enabling effective treatment.

A Desire for a More Aesthetically Pleasing Smile

Finally, if you’re unhappy with the appearance of a “gummy” smile, lengthening your dental crowns might be the solution. This procedure can reveal more of your teeth by reshaping and reducing excess gum tissue, leading to a brighter, more confident smile.

The Dental Crown Lengthening Procedure

Understanding what to expect during the lengthening process can alleviate your apprehensions. The procedure begins with an evaluation to determine the extent of treatment required. 

After the dental procedure, you can expect to spend some weeks healing, with your dentist providing post-procedure care instructions to ensure a smooth recovery.

What’s the Recovery Process Like?

After the procedure, it’s normal to experience some discomfort, slight inflammation, and light bleeding, but these should subside within a few days. Usually, your dentist will also advise you to avoid the following:

  • Eat hard or crunchy foods. 
  • Vigorously brushing the surgical site.

Complete healing of the gums can take a few weeks to several months, depending on individual healing response and whether the bone was removed.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Q: Are There Any Risks Involved With Dental Crown Lengthening?

A: As with any surgical procedure, dental crown lengthening has some potential risks. These may include temporary or permanent tooth sensitivity, especially to cold, as more of the tooth is exposed. However, when performed by a skilled professional, it is generally safe and effective.

Q: How long will the healing process from a dental crown lengthening procedure take?

A: The duration depends on the number of teeth requiring treatment and whether soft tissue and bone need removal. But, usually, it’ll take about one to two hours. Remember that after the surgery, a healing period is necessary for the gums to recover and for a more permanent dental crown to be placed if that’s part of your treatment plan. This healing phase can last anywhere from three to six months.

Q: What’s so different between dental crown lengthening and gum contouring?

A: While both procedures involve reshaping the gum line, they serve different purposes. Dental crown lengthening is typically performed to prepare a tooth for further restorative procedures like crowns or bridges. On the other hand, gum contouring, also known as gum reshaping, is mainly done for cosmetic reasons — to correct an uneven gum line and improve the appearance of your smile.


If you’ve noticed any of these signs, consider crown lengthening. Whether tackling tooth decay below the gum line or enhancing the aesthetics of your smile, it proves to be a versatile and essential dental procedure.

Remember, monitoring these signs and consulting with a dental professional if you have concerns is essential. Taking proactive care of your oral health can prevent more severe issues.

In conclusion, lengthening your dental crown is more than just a cosmetic procedure — it’s integral to maintaining and restoring oral health.

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