crown lengthening procedure

Understanding the Purpose and Process of Crown Lengthening

You’ve broken your tooth – maybe for the first time – and now you need to get a crown. However, the dentist informs you that there’s a problem that needs to be solved first. Your gums are too high up and they can’t put a crown on you yet. 

What does this mean for you, though? There’s not much a person can do to shorten their gums or cause them to recede. That’s where your local periodontist comes into play. 

Here’s everything you need to know about the crown lengthening procedure and why it may be vital for your mouth.

What is Crown Lengthening?

Crown lengthening surgery is a procedure where the gums and bone tissues surrounding a tooth are reshaped. The gums are cut down to allow more space for a crown on a tooth that has recently had a root canal. 

Unfortunately, your dentist can’t just cut back your gums on the same day that you get a new crown fitted. Your gums need time to heal, which could take over a week. Additionally, it’s a whole procedure to get your gums ready, and they can only follow up on your crown order when you’re healed. 

Another reason why you may need crown lengthening is if your gums are too high. This works more as a cosmetic dentistry procedure in that it improves your smile without being medically necessary. 

Why Crown Lengthening is Important

Tooth erosion can happen to anyone due to things like carbonated drinks or even acid reflux. If your tooth becomes too damaged, it can break and develop an infection. The only way to save an infected tooth is with a root canal.

The problem with root canals is that they always require a crown afterward to hold the tooth together. If there isn’t enough space for one, then your dentist can’t get a good mold of the tooth and fit a crown.

Without a crown, you’ll have a good deal of pain and likely need the tooth removed. Even worse is if you have an ill-fitting crown placed.

Some of the problems you face with a poorly fitted crown include gum disease, fractures, and even popping off in the middle of a meal. All of these will leave your mouth generally worse for wear. 

Crown lengthening surgery corrects that issue by reducing the visible gum tissue around the tooth to an acceptable level. Once healed, the crown can be placed as normal. 

The only downside is that it’ll push back your fitting by at least a week or two. However, there’s not much else a doctor can do about the issue than with the procedure. 

Crown Lengthening Surgery Types

In total, there are three types of crown lengthening procedures. These are a gingivectomy, apically repositioned flap surgery, and surgical extrusion. All of them aim to accomplish a similar goal, though they may be used to facilitate different end results. 


One of the oldest types of crown lengthening procedure is a gingivectomy. It involves cutting away and removing gum tissue. In some cases, your surgeon will also need to reshape the bone to limit the gum’s regrowth. 

You can expect local anesthetic to numb the pain. In some cases, they may need to use a sedative if they’re working on multiple teeth. 

The good thing about a gingivectomy is that it’s an outpatient procedure and it doesn’t take more than an hour to complete. 

Apically Repositioned Flap Surgery

This is the most common type of crown lengthening performed these days. It involves removing portions of the gum by creating a flap of tissue. The flap is lifted up and the parts of your gum tissue are cut away.

The gums are then cleaned and the flaps are closed with sutures. 

Your dentist may prefer this method as a way to maintain some keratinized tissue instead of cutting away your gum line. 

Surgical Extrusion

Surgical extrusion is one of the more invasive forms of crown lengthening. With this procedure, the periodontist will physically reposition your teeth. 

Your dentist may suggest this procedure if your tooth is badly damaged and needs repositioning. How the surgeon goes about this depends on the damage.

With simple repositioning, your surgeon will use special tools to pull the tooth into the right position. In other cases, they may need to extract the tooth entirely to reshape it before reimplanting it into your mouth. 

Recovery Process

The recovery process from a crown lengthening will depend on the procedure. 

With a gingivectomy, you only have to wait for the cut area to heal up. The oral surgeon will suture it shut, but it shouldn’t take more than a couple of weeks to heal enough for a crown placement. 

The same applies to an apically repositioned flap surgery.

However, surgical extrusion will require a bit more time to recover from. The reimplanted tooth will need to be splinted to surrounding teeth for up to a few weeks, so you’ll need to be careful until then. 

Cost of a Crown Lengthening Procedure

Generally speaking, crown lengthening is the least expensive part of repairing a broken tooth. The root canal will cost you upwards of $1,000, while the crown can be anywhere from $500 to $3,000. However, the crown lengthening should only cost a few hundred dollars. 

Once again, it all depends on the type of procedure your oral surgeon is performing. You also have to take into account the added cost if they need to use sedatives when you get a crown extension. 

If you have trouble making any of these payments, you can always set up payment plans or use a medical loan. 

Speak to Your Dentist in Lexington

A crown lengthening procedure is a low-risk outpatient surgery that may be needed for reasons other than getting a new crown placed on your teeth. In some cases, they’ll perform it to give your smile a better appearance. Either way, expect recovery to take at least a week or two. 

Justice Dental provides care for our patients in the Lexington area. Our services include general dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, and dental surgeries. Contact us if you have any questions and to set up an appointment today.