If a tooth has been seriously damaged or weakened, a dentist can use a dental crown to rebuild it. The crown is essentially a cap that fits over the remaining tooth structure, and they can last quite a long time if treated correctly.
How Do Crowns Get Decay?
Unfortunately, it’s possible for decay to develop under the crown. It’s caused by bacteria that lives in your mouth. This bacterial layer is known as dental plaque, and it produces an acidic waste product that dissolves enamel and creates cavities.
The metal or porcelain used to make most crowns cannot be dissolved by that acid, but the underlying tooth structure can. When plaque is allowed to accumulate at the point where crown meets tooth, which is generally at the gumline, a cavity can develop. That cavity will penetrate beneath the crown and start attacking the tooth beneath, which is a serious problem since that surface cannot be cleaned. In some cases, the entire tooth can turn to mush and require extraction.
How Can You Tell If There’s Decay Beneath a Crown?
Only your dentist will be able to tell for sure if there’s decay beneath a crown, but you may notice pain, sensitivity, or pressure around the area. If decay becomes advanced, you may notice a bad taste in your mouth and possibly develop bad breath.
If you’re worried, visit your dentist. They will be able to take an x-ray to check the underlying tooth and look around the gumline for signs of a cavity.
How Can You Prevent Decay Beneath a Crown?
When it comes to decay, prevention is always key. Keep brushing and flossing around the tooth as you normally would, using fluoride toothpaste and a fluoride wash to keep plaque at bay. Flossing is particularly important since you want to prevent plaque accumulating along the gum line. If you have trouble flossing, ask your dentist about an alternative. Interdental cleaners and water flossers can be just as effective.