When you lose most of a tooth above the gum line, you probably think you have little chance to save it. However, despite how bad a severely broken tooth looks, a good dentist may be able to fix it without replacing it entirely. Although it might seem like all of the most useful part of the tooth is gone, there may still be enough good tooth left below the gum line to preserve. If so, a dentist can basically save the tooth.
Crown Lengthening Saves Badly Broken Teeth
If you wish to save a tooth with very little tooth structure remaining above the gum line, you can do so with crown lengthening. General dentists don't usually perform the crown lengthening surgery, so your dentist might instead recommend a periodontist who can.
The portion of a tooth above the gum line is called the "crown". And this is where the procedure gets its name from. A small portion of the crown rests below the gum line, under the bone and gum tissue. So, in order to save a badly broken or decayed tooth, a periodontist will perform a surgery to expose the rest of the crown, thus lengthening it and leaving room for dental crown placement.
Crown Lengthening Works With Gum and Bone Tissue
To save a severely damaged tooth, a periodontist sculpts away some of the bone covering the remaining part of the crown. This is a sensitive procedure because removing too much bone will expose a tooth's root, leaving it vulnerable to tooth decay. But the periodontist only needs to expose enough of the underlying tooth for a crown to grip onto.
To reach the bone, a periodontist first makes small incisions at the gum line. They can then ease the gum tissue away from the remaining tooth structure. This allows them access to the bone covering the rest of the tooth's crown. Once they have access, a periodontist can then remove enough bone to place a crown, and then reposition the gum tissue against the tooth.
Crown Placement Can Occur in Six to Eight Weeks
Although the surgery to expose the tooth crown and reposition the gum only takes about 60 to 90 minutes to complete, the recovery time is much longer. After the surgery, your gum tissue will need about six to eight weeks to recover and adjust to its new position. Then, your dentist can place a permanent dental crown onto the newly exposed tooth-structure.
Badly broken teeth are not a lost cause. Speak to your dentist about saving your tooth with crown lengthening before you commit to extracting it.