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Help! I recently broke a tooth at gum level when I bit down on an olive stone. I am worried that I might lose it. Can it be saved?

Please come and see us as soon as possible! Crown lengthening is a common treatment procedure used to expose more tooth above the gum line where a tooth has broken at, or near, gum level. In order for your dentist to make a restoration such as a composite filling or a crown, sufficient healthy tooth has to be exposed above the gum line so that a restoration can be securely bonded.

Crown lengthening is a surgical procedure that can be carried out using local anesthesia. Numbing is the same as numbing a tooth for a filling. Tiny little incisions are made inside the gum-line, both cheek and tongue side and the gum is teased open like a little flap. A minor amount of bone is then sculpted away from the tooth to “lengthen” the tooth surface, and this is where this treatment procedure gets its name. The gum is then replaced against that tooth leaving no open wounds, therefore, healing is quick and uneventful. Self-dissolving sutures are often used and minor anti-inflammatory drugs are given after surgery. These drugs are used for comfort and aim to reduce post-surgical swelling.

This procedure should not be painful. There is the same amount of pressure and vibration as that which occurs during a typical filling.  A typical crown lengthening procedure takes about 60 – 90 minutes. Post-operative discomfort is minimal and you can go about normal activities the following day, avoiding vigorous exercise that may cause bleeding. Healing is usually evaluated in about a week to ten days. A period of approximately six to eight weeks is required prior to going ahead with final tooth restorations as it is important for the gum tissues to have fully matured.

There will be limitations as to the amount of crown lengthening that can be carried out in situations where teeth have more severe fractures. Orthodontic treatment may be recommended in some instances.

Having a small procedure such as crown lengthening will predispose successful, more permanent restoration and the survival of the remaining healthy tooth structure, so yes, if that broken tooth was healthy, it can be saved if you get it attended to immediately!