The shortest possible answer to the question posed in the title isn’t a pleasant one. If there’s decay under your crown, we need to treat that decay. That means, even in the best case scenarios, you’ll need a new crown.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s take a look at the what, why, and how.
What causes decay under a crown?
Decay under a crown is caused by the same thing that causes decay on a normal tooth – bacteria. The best way to deal with decay under a crown is to stop it before it happens. That means you need to stick to your oral health regimen, brushing twice a day and flossing once a day. You should pay special attention to your crown, especially the edges of it.
I have decay under my crown. Now what?
When decay occurs under a crown, you’ll usually feel pain or discomfort in that area. Your dental team will take an x-ray – that’s how the decay will be found. Now, if you don’t think you do have decay, you can always get a second opinion, but be sure to bring that x-ray with you. Sometimes, decay in a tooth is so slight that even a minor movement in the x-ray machine can cause it to disappear – but even slight decay must be treated before it gets worse.
Fillings or root canals
If there is decay that needs to be treated, you’ll require, either a filling (like you would for a normal cavity) or a root canal. Root canals tend to be more common at this phase because so much of your tooth’s structure was eliminated in order to fit the crown. In other words, bacteria don’t have a long way to travel before they start threatening the pulp in your teeth.
Either way, your dental team will need to remove your crown for the procedure.
Getting a new crown
Things get pretty tricky when you’re putting a second crown on a tooth – it’s not as easy as simply making an exact copy of the old crown. The decay that was removed has, once again, altered the shape of your tooth, and there was already very little tooth to work with. In some cases, getting a new crown is impossible, and you’ll need to opt for another prosthetic device, like a dental bridge. In other cases, your dentist will refer you to a prosthodontist with the technical skills required to fit a crown.
In the best case scenarios, however, you’ll be able to simply get a new crown – this usually happens if you catch the decay quite early. That’s why it’s important to visit your dentist regularly. By doing so, we can repair dental crowns that have been damaged to help prevent decay in the first place, or detect decay early enough that a small filling is all that’s needed.
Have any questions about dental crowns and decay? Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.