What is Crown Lengthening?

The term “crown lengthening” can be misleading, as it’s not really the crown of the tooth that is being modified. Instead, it is the gum tissue that is modified to expose more of the tooth, thereby making the tooth look longer. In some cases, bone is also removed or recontoured as part of the crown lengthening process. 

A crown lengthening procedure may be performed for several reasons, including cosmetic enhancements, to improve oral health, or to help prepare for an upcoming dental procedure such as a crown or bridge.

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Benefits of crown lengthening

Cosmetic benefits

Crown lengthening, or gum contouring, has many cosmetic benefits. When performed across several teeth, this procedure can create a more even, symmetrical gum line, leading to a more pleasing smile.

Preparing for other treatments

Sometimes crown lengthening is required before other dental procedures, such as adding a dental crown to a tooth. Dental crowns require an adequate surface area for attachment, and crown lengthening can reveal additional surface area to make the attachment more secure. 

When crown lengthening is being performed before another procedure or dental restoration, your gums will need to fully heal before the additional treatments are performed. This healing process can take up to six months, but your dentist will let you know what to expect, given your unique situation.

Addressing a gummy smile

“Gummy smile” is the term used to describe a smile that shows excessive gum tissue between the teeth and the lip when smiling. A gummy smile results in the appearance of short teeth, even though the teeth are simply covered. A crown lengthening procedure can address a gummy smile.

Ease of dental care

Bacteria, tartar, and plaque all like to hide beneath the gum tissue where it’s harder for your toothbrush to reach them. Crown lengthening can help you improve your dental health. By exposing more of the tooth’s surface, your home care routine of tooth brushing and flossing becomes more effective! This has many obvious benefits, including a reduction in future tooth decay.

The Crown Lengthening Procedure

Most crown lengthening or gum contouring procedures are completed in under an hour, right in our offices. 

Although crown lengthening or gum contouring is a standard procedure, we always begin with a complete assessment of your oral health and overall health, to identify any factors that may impact your procedure or your recovery. 

To make sure you’re as comfortable as possible during the procedure, we’ll use local anesthetic as needed to avoid pain. We can also offer sedation options if you’re still feeling nervous about the procedure. 

If you’ve already been fitted with temporary crowns, those will be removed for the crown lengthening procedure, then replaced before you leave the office.

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The Recovery Process

You’ll be able to resume many normal activities immediately after your crown lengthening procedure, but full recovery can take up to several months.

Immediately after the procedure:

  • You may use an ice pack (in 20-minute increments) to help with pain and swelling. 
  • Avoid physical exertion for the first 2-3 days after your procedure. 
  • Hot foods and beverages may contribute to increased bleeding and should be avoided for the first couple of days.

As you’re recovering, here are some things to look out for:

  • You may be sensitive to hot and cold temperatures. Try food and beverages slowly at first. 
  • Avoid foods that are especially tough, sticky, or difficult to chew for the first week or two after surgery. 
  • Wait one to two weeks before reintroducing spicy foods. 
  • Avoid smoking or drinking alcohol for one to two weeks, or follow your oral surgeon’s guidance on their reintroduction. 
  • Follow your oral surgeon’s guidance about home hygiene practices such as brushing and flossing gently. 
  • Take pain medication as prescribed or discussed with your oral surgeon.

Happy Patients

Dr Phan and Dental Assistant Jane were really Pros from start to finish. Jane was absolutely hilarious and very attentive, while also totally professional. Her and Dr. Phan made a great team and were able to solve my complicated wisdom tooth situation and always kept me informed of every risk before proceeding. Thank you!

Michael B.

Dr Beckstead is amazing. I had partial bone loss around one of my teeth and three dentists think that I won't be able to keep it, but Dr Beckstead performed one surgery and saved my tooth. It has been over two years since the surgery and I have not had any more issues with that tooth.

Lucy X.

I'm actually looking forward to my next prophylaxis. That's a teeth cleaning, and I never would have believed I'd say such a thing. I want to give a special shout out to Cindy, who did a fantastic job on my teeth AND gave me the tools and knowledge to nip gum disease in the bud. Have you ever heard of a Sulcabrush? I have one now, and it's awesome. Look it up.

David R.

Dr. Beckstead and his entire team are exceptional. They provided kind, informative and top-notch care every step of the way. My nerves were immediately calmed when I entered the office and I realized that I was in the caring and experienced care of true professionals. The procedure was flawless, the outcome was terrific and the entire process was pain-free (in every way!).

Tina R.

Contact Us

Call (650) 941-7300 to schedule your appointment.



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Fri: 7:00 AM – 11:00 AM

Sat-Sun: Closed


20 First Street, Suite 200, Los Altos, CA 94022

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