How Do I Know If My Tooth Crown Is Infected? | Elements Dental Spa Dentistry
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How Do I Know If My Crown Is Infected?

Tooth crowns, also called caps, offer a lot of protection to the tooth they enclose, but sometimes, they are not absolute protection.

Oral bacteria can make their way underneath a crown if a person does not practice good oral hygiene.

Similar to regular tooth decay, when bacteria enter the underneath of a crown, they convert sugars to acids that eat away the crown’s enamel, resulting in a tooth that can rot away.

With sugar consumption on the rise among Americans coupled with failure to maintain oral care, even a dental crown will not serve its purpose of protecting a tooth that is already at risk.

Related: Dental Hygiene Tips to Keep Your Teeth and Gums Healthy

What is a Dental Crown?

A dental crown is a “cap” customized to cover a patient’s tooth.

It can be made from a variety of different materials, depending on the patient’s needs and preferences.

The materials you can choose from when you want a crown for your tooth include stainless steel, metals, porcelain-fused-to-metal, zirconia, all-resin, all-ceramic, or all-porcelain.

Reasons for a dental crown:

  • Restoring a tooth’s shape and size
  • Increasing a tooth’s strength
  • Enhancing the performance of a tooth

The crown is usually cemented into place, making sure that the whole tooth is encased to provide maximum protection.

These are the scenarios that typically call for the use of dental crowns:

  • Large cavities that can’t be filled
  • Missing teeth when a bridge is needed
  • Coverage for dental implants
  • Cracked, worn down, or weak teeth
  • Restoration after a root canal
  • Cosmetic reasons like discolored or badly shaped teeth
  • When baby teeth have been damaged by decay
  • Extreme scenarios where poor oral hygiene or an aversion to general
  • anesthesia demands the procedure

Can Your Tooth Rot Under a Crown?

The short answer is yes.

Crowns can be damaged over time because of trauma to the mouth or chewing on hard things.

The long answer is when a crown gets damaged, bacteria will easily get past it and get to the real tooth underneath.

A red toothbrush on a dental prosthesis under the lights with a blurry background - Tiger Smile DentistryIt’s important to consider that when a crown is placed, the dentist will have to remove a portion of the enamel that serves as a protection to the inner, weaker layers of the tooth.

The crown then serves as the enamel for the tooth.

Hence, when the crown or the protective layer of the tooth is damaged, bacteria and sugars can get into the inner layers of the tooth underneath.

The acid that bacteria excrete after feeding on sugar stays underneath the damaged crown for a prolonged period of time because there is no saliva that will wash it away.

This means that a tooth under a crown can rot because it is more susceptible to decay than one that is not if the dental crown becomes compromised with unhealthy oral habits.

Is it Normal for a Dental Crown to Hurt?

When problems arise with a crown, you can feel discomfort, sensitivity, or pressure when the crown sits. You may also feel constant pain.

Here are some reasons outlined by Healthline about what could be causing your crown to hurt:

  1. Tooth decay under the crown

    You still have a real tooth underneath a dental crown.

    This means that the tooth is still alive and is susceptible to tooth decay or a cavity that can form at the border of your tooth and the crown that was placed over it.

    Tooth decay or a cavity can cause persistent pain in the area, especially when the cavity grows large enough that it affects the nerves of your tooth.

  2. Infection

    The tooth under your crown still has nerves in it that are very alive, unless you had a root canal before a dental crown was placed.

    There are instances that the crown puts pressure on a traumatized nerve, causing an infection.

    Other times, infections can occur because of old fillings underneath the crown that leak bacteria infecting the nerve.

    How will you know if your crown is infected?

    Here are the signs of a tooth crown infection:

    • Redness at or around the site of the crown placement
    • Swelling of the gums or jaw around the area that now has the crown
    • Tenderness or pain around the crown
    • Unusual warmth that you only feel in one area of your mouth and is unrelated to any hot food or drink that you may have just had
    • A clear, yellowish, or greenish fluid that is leaking out or draining around the crown
    • A fever
    • Swollen neck glands (bumps at the side of your neck)
    • Unusual odor around the crown or especially bad breath (from bacteria that produce gases that smell bad)If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, contact your dentist immediately to schedule a root canal.


  3. Sore Gums from a Crown Procedure

    Gum pain after a tooth crown procedure is not uncommon. However, if the pain persists longer than two weeks, you should seek the advice of your dentist.

  4. Fractured Crown or Tooth

    You may feel mild pain when your crown or the tooth under your crown cracks making your tooth sensitive to cold, heat, or air. Have the crack fixed immediately.

  5. A Crown That Doesn’t Fit Correctly

    An improper fit of a crown can lead to discomfort affecting your bite or smile.

    For example, a crown that is too high on the tooth can cause pain when you bite down.

    You can ask your dentist to adjust the dental crown into your bite just as your other teeth do to prevent jaw pain and headaches.

Dealing With Dental Crown Complications

When you feel pain or discomfort of the teeth following a new dental crown restoration, you may be asked to take simple analgesic medications.

Miniature Workers Performing Dental Procedures - Tiger Smile DentistryWhen you suffer a long-term complication, you will most likely be asked to undergo a dental examination and X-ray to determine the cause and appropriate treatment.

Knowing the symptoms of a tooth crown infection will help you take the necessary steps to prevent further pain.

It is best that you consult your local dentist when you experience any of the aforementioned signs of tooth crown infection because they will know the best course of action.

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Elements Dental Spa Family Dentistry offers a variety of dental care services and treatments in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Led by Dr. Cecilia L. Luong, her team of dentists has been assisting clients with different teeth, gum, and mouth problems.

Contact us now to schedule your appointment!