What is crown lengthening, and why is it necessary before some crowns and fillings, where others do not require such a procedure? To answer this question, we must first understand what is required of your tooth in order to ensure the crown placement is successful.

Two areas must have sufficient height to ensure adequate retention and health of the crown. The first is the height of the remaining tooth structure above the gums, and the second is the height of tooth structure below the gums, but above the bone. If either of these measurements are less than the accepted standard, then something must be done to correct the deficiency. That something, is crown lengthening.

Crown lengthening refers to a surgical process that removes a small amount of bone around the tooth in order to reveal more visible tooth structure. The tooth is then allowed to heal, and a crown is able to be placed at this time with sufficient height to be stable, the gums stay healthy, and increase the likelihood that the crown stays functional for many years to come.

Failure to complete crown lengthening when it is indicated may result in irritated gums, inability to make a satisfactory crown, or even the early failure of a crown which could lead to extraction of the tooth requiring an expensive implant or bridge. Make sure your dentist understands when crown lengthening surgery is necessary and will complete the procedure or refer you to a periodontist when necessary. If your dentist tells you crown lengthening is required, remember that a small investment early will save time and money in the long run.

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