How Does Tooth Decay Happen Under A Dental Crown?

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Dental crowns are a tooth-shaped cover or "cap" that are placed over a patient's natural tooth to restore its structure in size, shape, and function. Once cemented into place, a crown will fully encase the visible portion of a person's natural tooth at and above the gumline. However, what patients may not know is that tooth decay under a dental crown is still possible. Like natural teeth, not maintaining proper oral hygiene and allowing bacteria and plaque to accumulate is why tooth decay under a dental crown is an issue. When tooth decay is significant, a root canal procedure may be necessary to save the crown's existing tooth structure. Read on to learn more from Dr. Edward Knight and the Knight Dental Care team in Midland, MI about signs or symptoms of tooth decay under a crown and how they can help.

Dental crowns in Midland, MI, and how they work

If you recently learned you might need a dental crown, you may be curious about how it works to cover, protect, and reinforce your damaged or missing tooth. A dental crown is a customized prosthetic "cover" or hollow cap made of a composite resin material or porcelain that fits over a portion of a person's natural tooth or small titanium post with a dental implant. Once cemented into place, a crown will protect and restore the tooth's function and appearance. However, without proper brushing and flossing, and regular visits to the dentist, plaque and bacteria buildup can affect the tooth structure underneath the crown, leading to other dental concerns or possibly a root canal procedure.

Symptoms of tooth decay under a crown

If you are experiencing pain from a crown, whether it is an established or new one, you'll need to visit as soon as possible to get relief. Here are a few signs or symptoms of tooth decay under a crown that may indicate you have a problem:

  • Bleeding when brushing or flossing around the area
  • Inflamed, swollen gums
  • Increased tooth sensitivity
  • Toothaches or pain
  • Visible grey or brown spots at the base of the tooth

If you are experiencing pain from a crown, Dr. Knight will perform a comprehensive exam and take X-ray images to check for any underlying issues. It is not uncommon for tooth decay to develop beneath older crowns due to a breakdown in the bond or sealant after years of biting or chewing food. Dr. Knight will remove the existing crown to clean out the current tooth decay, replacing it with a new one once the tooth is fully healed and healthy again. When the tooth decay under a crown is significant, it may not be sufficient to safeguard the pulp from being destroyed. A root canal treatment will be necessary before a new crown is put into place in such cases. Dr. Knight will work with you to determine the best course of action to relieve any painful discomfort and restore your oral health.

What if I need a root canal with a crown already on?

A root canal is needed when a patient's pulp inside their tooth has become infected. It can be caused by a chip or crack in the tooth structure, severe decay, or an old crown that has lost its sealant. If infected tooth pulp is left untreated, it can cause severe pain and inflammation. During a root canal, Dr. Knight will clean out the infected pulp and disinfect inside the tooth structure to avoid any further infection. It is then filled and sealed with unique dental material. Afterward, the top of the tooth is restored with either a filling or dental crown. If you need a root canal with a crown already on, Dr. Knight will either remove the existing dental cap or leave it intact to access the infected pulp. If left on during the root canal treatment, the crown will be replaced afterward, as it could be weakened or cracked during the process.

Even though a dental crown is a long-lasting cosmetic restoration that will hold up to the daily wear and tear your teeth take, if not properly flossed or brushed daily, plaque and bacteria buildup can happen below the crown structure. Tooth decay under a crown causes it to fail, which can lead to other dental issues. If you have tooth pain or discomfort,or want your existing dental crowns checked, contact Knight Dental Care in Midland, MI and schedule a dental exam with Dr. Edward Knight today.

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.