Dental crowns, for the most part, do an excellent job of protecting the stubs of teeth you have underneath. However, that does not mean strange things cannot happen to your crowns or to the teeth under the crowns. Here are a few oddities that can occur with crowned teeth, and what to do about it if any of these things happen to you.
Cavities and/or Pain in the Crowned Tooth
The crown that the dentist places over the shaped stub of a tooth only cover to the gum line. A cavity can still occur in the tooth under the crown when food, bacteria and sugars are not removed by brushing and flossing. If you are experiencing pain in a crowned tooth, you should definitely have your dentist investigate. If an x-ray does not show signs of decay, it may just be a nerve thing. If there are signs of decay under the base of the crown, your dentist will have to carefully remove the crown, repair the cavity and replace the crown.
A Broken Crown
If you have a full porcelain crown, these are nearly impossible to break. However, an acrylic crown can definitely break if your face and mouth are hit with enough force. A mixed porcelain/acrylic crown requires more force to break, but it could happen as well.
In the event that you do end up with a broken crown, regardless of what material it is made of, you need to see your dentist right away. The tooth stub underneath no longer has any enamel to protect it, and the nerve and roots could be exposed as well. Your dentist will place an emergency crown over this tooth and then have you return in a couple days to place the brand-new crown.
Badly Discolored Crowns
Crowns are made of porous materials. Hence, they absorb staining foods and drinks and are also affected by tobacco products. The cheaper the material that makes up the crown, the worse the discoloration. The people with the worst stained crowns are those that chew tobacco and have the cheapest crowns.
They end up with mottled brown or dark yellow crowns. Brushing these crowns is not enough, and over-the-counter teeth whitening kits will not do the trick. You will need to have your dentist professionally bleach or replace the crowns if you are going to make them less obvious and better looking than they are.