Crowns (also known as “caps”) are dental restorations that have been used by dentists for many years. They can be made from any of a variety of materials – including acrylic, porcelain, metal and composite resin – and are designed to completely cover the surface of the affected tooth. Crowns are often an effective way of saving a tooth that has either significant decay or other damage that can’t be repaired by a simple filling. By removing exiting decay and covering the tooth with a crown, a dentist can save a tooth that might otherwise need to be extracted. Crowns are used for other purposes as well, such as sitting atop dental implants to replace missing teeth and as artificial teeth in dental bridges. But their most common use remains as restorations for decayed or damaged teeth. As effective as crowns are, they can still cause issues for some people. We’ve compiled this list of the most common dental crown problems that Austin, Texas dental patients should be aware of.
Dental Crown Problems
Before we explore our list of possible crown issues, it’s important to note that these problems are relatively rare. There is a good reason why crowns have been used for so long by dentists across the US and around the world – a crown is an excellent way to restore a tooth to complete health and functionality. But it is possible that some patients will experience problems with crowns. What follows are a list of some of the most common issues.
- Decay – Although most crowns are designed to cover the entire tooth surface, it is still possible for decay to develop underneath the crown. This usually happens due to poor dental hygiene. If the patient isn’t diligent enough with daily brushing and flossing, it is possible for decay to develop at the margin of where the crown and the tooth meet. This may also happen if some of the dental cement used to adhere the crown to the tooth washes or wears away over time, leaving a tiny gap between the crown and the tooth and allowing bacteria to enter underneath the crown. That bacteria can build up and lead to decay developing on the remaining tooth under the crown. To avoid this situation, remember that it’s important to always practice good oral hygiene and to visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and exams. And if you believe that you have a loose crown – or if you start to feel discomfort on a tooth that has been crowned – contact your dentist. If decay does develop under the crown, the restoration will need to be removed in order for your dentist to remove the decay, after which the crown can be once again fitted back on the tooth.
- Sensitivity – Some patients may experience some amount of discomfort or sensitivity after getting a new crown. It’s relatively common for people to feel some sensitivity to hot and cold food and drinks after a new crown is installed, which is typically due to the dentin of the tooth being exposed during the crowning procedure and the crown not entirely covering the surface of the tooth. The dentist may choose to apply a solution to protect the exposed dentin in these circumstances, and will probably recommend that the patient use a sensitivity toothpaste on a regular basis. Some people also experience a certain amount of minor pain after the crowning procedure, but this is typically short-lived and goes away within a few days.
- Loosened crown – Although it doesn’t happen often, a crown can become loose due to the patient eating too much sticky or hard food and/or because the crown wasn’t cemented adequately enough when it was installed. Patients who experience a loose crown should contact their dentist right away to avoid bacteria collecting underneath the crown and developing into decay if left untreated.
- Cracked crown – Most crowns are extremely strong and durable, particularly those made from metal. Even porcelain crowns are remarkably strong and typically last for many years. But nothing is indestructible, and that holds true for crowns as well. A crown may chip or crack, especially if it is several years old. If this happens, the patient should contact his or her dentist right away so the crown can be replaced.
- Traumatized nerves – The first step in getting a new crown is when the dentist removes existing decay from the affected tooth and reshapes the surface in order to make room for the new crown. During this process, it is possible for the nerves of the tooth to be impacted. When this happens, the patient might experience a certain amount of discomfort for days, weeks or even months afterward. Usually this discomfort is simply sensitivity, but sometimes it can involve pain when biting down on the crowned tooth. Patients who experience this should talk to their dentist. Time may lessen these symptoms. But if the pain persists, the tooth may need a root canal and a new crown.
- Dark line along the gums – Some patients who receive new crowns may notice a dark line appearing at the base of the crown, along the gum line. This usually happens when the crown is made from porcelain infused with metal. Although it doesn’t negatively impact the patient’s oral health, it’s not particularly attractive, and the patient may choose to have the crown replaced with either a purely porcelain or ceramic restoration.
Dental crowns have saved countless teeth throughout the years. To this day, fitting patients with dental crowns is one of the most common services offered by oral health providers. In fact, the vast majority of dentists have many years of experience installing crowns for their patients. And while it’s true that most people who get new crowns don’t have any problems at all, a few will experience one or more of these issues. The good news is that all of these problems can usually be easily resolved by your dentist. To find out more about common dental crown problems, call your Austin, Texas dentist today and schedule an appointment.