Can You Get a Cavity Under a Dental Crown?
June 26, 2019

Tooth inner anatomy of a cavity

A dental crown is a vital tool used to rebuild and protect a tooth which has been severely damaged or weakened. Crowns fit in a cap-like way, snugly over the remaining tooth structure. A crown is made of a very strong dental material including gold, porcelain, or a combination of the two. Bonded or cemented to what remains of a tooth’s natural crown, dental crown restorations can often last a very long time with proper care. 


A tooth with a dental crown can become decayed, and many patients are unaware of this fact until they are faced with a decaying crown. A crown itself will not be affected by tooth decay, but the remaining tooth underneath is still susceptible to acid attacks and cavities. Once established, a cavity can grow quickly, burrowing under a crown and softening the tooth beneath. 


Why Crowns Don’t Prevent Tooth Decay 

The possibility of tooth decay developing underneath a crown restoration is concerning for patients who have just undergone a crown procedure. The best defense against tooth decay from occurring is to prevent it from happening from the start. Tooth decay most often forms under a dental crown due to these circumstances:


Avoiding Regular Exams. Failing to not schedule or attend regular dental checkups may lead to tooth decay to go undetected until it has caused damage and pain. Regular routine checkups can prevent decay under a dental crown before it happens. 


Neglecting Your Oral Hygiene. Not brushing and flossing your teeth regularly allows for plaque from bacteria to attack your teeth. A dental crown does not protect your tooth from bacteria entirely. 


Poor-Fitting Crown. A dental crown that is not fitted correctly can cause a buildup of bacteria to form, affecting the tooth under the crown. 


Signs of Tooth Decay Under a Crown 

It can be a challenge to detect if there is tooth decay under a crown, especially if the decayed area is minor. Your dentist can determine if the tooth under a crown is damaged from decay by taking an x-ray. Your dentist may also be able to detect tooth decay by merely examining the tooth in question. 


Signs of tooth decay include:

  • A toothache with either continuous discomfort or occasional sharp pain without an apparent cause
  • Tooth sensitivity while eating or drinking 
  • Grey, brown or black spots appearing on a tooth 
  • An unpleasant taste in your mouth that lingers 
  • Bad breath


Preventing Tooth Decay 

Having your teeth cleaned and examined on a regular basis by your dentist is the best way to prevent tooth decay from taking hold of your teeth. Your dentist will recommend routine x-rays to assist in detecting early signs of tooth decay while the cavity is still small. In most cases, small cavities can be successfully filled without any risk to the crown. 


Prevention is key to keeping your teeth healthy and cavity-free. Brushing and flossing every tooth, including those with fillings and crowns, is the first step in preventative home care. 


Don’t Delay Treatment

Letting a cavity under a dental crown go undetected and untreated can, in worst-case scenarios, allow for the entire tooth to crumble under the crown. In this instance, the crown and any remains of the tooth would need to be removed, leaving a gap in its place. The gap would then need to be filled with a bridge denture or implant. 


Don’t wait until it’s too late; a cavity under a crown can happen to anyone. Call Premier Dental Center today to schedule an x-ray and exam for your dental crown.