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Crown lengthening surgery

Patient information A-Z

This leaflet has been designed to explain what crown lengthening surgery involves and what to expect should you proceed with surgery. We have included answers to many frequently asked questions. If you have any other questions that the leaflet does not answer, or if you would like further information, please ask us.

What is crown lengthening surgery?

Crown lengthening surgery is a surgical procedure to expose more of the tooth that is beneath the gum. This procedure is normally performed to make it easier to place a filling or crown.

What is involved in this procedure?

This minor surgical procedure is carried out under local anaesthetic and involves:

  • peeling the gum around the tooth / teeth being treated back
  • removing bone and/or gum to expose more of the tooth / teeth
  • closing the gum with stitches, which may need to be removed in 7-10 days

Will the procedure be successful?

This procedure is generally a predictable way of exposing more of your tooth, but a successful outcome cannot always be guaranteed. Occasionally, due to unforeseen circumstances, your surgeon may discover that the surgery is not possible once the gum flap has been raised. In this case the treatment plan would need to be changed.

Further surgical procedures are sometimes necessary as a follow-up to the initial surgery. This will be explained to you by your clinician.

What are the potential benefits of this procedure?

  • Exposure of tooth under the gum to allow the placement of a filling or crown / bridge
  • Saving a tooth from being removed
  • Providing better access for you to clean your tooth / teeth to prevent tooth decay
  • Improved smile

What are the risks involved with this procedure?

The risks associated with crown lengthening surgery include, but are not limited to:

  • pain and discomfort during and after surgery
  • damage to adjacent teeth and structures
  • post-operative pain, swelling, bruising, bleeding and infection
  • post-operative sensitivity of teeth at the surgical site, a common problem which usually settles in a matter of weeks
  • the gum possibly growing back
  • altered sensation / numbness if the nerves in the region are stretched or damaged. This may be temporary or permanent and is very rare.
  • smoking – negatively affects the outcome of the treatment

It is important to note that as the gum heals with time, it may shrink back further. This is often why the final filling / crown is not placed until several months after the surgery. If there is an existing filling or crown on your tooth having the surgery, the edge of the filling or crown will become visible in your mouth. As the gum shrinkage will reveal more of the root of the tooth, it is very likely you will experience sensitivity to hot, cold or sweet food / drinks.

Smoking negatively affects the outcome of this treatment.

Contact details

Restorative Dentistry, Clinic 8, Box 47, Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, CB2 0QQ

Opening hours: 09:00 to 17:00, Monday to Friday.

Direct line: 01223 216412

Switchboard: 01223 245151

We are smoke-free

Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the hospital campus. For advice and support in quitting, contact your GP or the free NHS stop smoking helpline on 0800 169 0 169.

Other formats

Help accessing this information in other formats is available. To find out more about the services we provide, please visit our patient information help page (see link below) or telephone 01223 256998.

Contact us

Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge

Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151