When it comes to maintaining a healthy mouth and smile, dental crowns can play a crucial role. This role may be to improve the functioning of a natural tooth or to help create a more even smile.
While a safe and popular choice, there is still the possibility of developing an infection if your dental crown becomes damaged in any way as you go about your daily routine. Knowing the signs to look for when such an infection occurs can alert you to its existence and prompt you to seek professional dental help as soon as possible.
What Exactly is a Dental Crown and Who Needs One?
A dental crown is essentially an artificial cap customized and fitted over the top of a natural tooth. Its role is to restore the functionality of the tooth and also improve the aesthetic appearance of the tooth itself.
As a final step, your dental crown is cemented in place after confirming that the entire natural tooth is encased so as to provide maximum protection.
Dental crowns come in various materials, including all-ceramic, all-resin, all-porcelain, stainless steel, or porcelain-fused-to-metal. Your choice will depend on your particular circumstances and needs and the recommendations made by your dentist.
The essential benefits of a dental crown include:
- Reshaping or restoring the shape or size of the natural tooth to provide for a better bite, chewing ability, or create a more even smile.
- Increasing the strength of the tooth, such as when prior cavities have resulted in large fillings.
- Enhancing the overall usage, performance, and functionality of the tooth.
There are specific reasons why a patient will need a dental crown. Some of these include:
- damage to a tooth, including cracks and chips
- wearing down of a tooth over time
- excessive loss of the protective layer of tooth enamel
- cavities that become too large to continue effectively filling
- a missing tooth
- as a cover for dental implants
- for restoration following a root canal
- for aesthetic or cosmetic reasons, such as discoloration or oddly shaped teeth
Dental crowns can last for years as long as you continue to practice good oral hygiene and avoid trauma to the crown itself. Still, problems can arise, including the development of an infection which requires a trip to your dentist to determine the right treatment to implement.
How Can I Tell if My Dental Crown is Infected?
The dental crown, once placed, serves as the protective enamel-like layer for what’s left of the natural tooth. While this protective shell can effectively do its job, there are times when damage occurs, exposing the tooth to additional problems.
This damage can occur to a dental crown as a result of some type of trauma, such as that potentially caused by biting down on hard objects or chewing ice.
When this occurs, bacteria or sugars may find their way into the remaining natural tooth underneath, that portion which is normally encased in the crown, and this can lead to infection.
More importantly, underneath your crown, your natural tooth still contains a bundle of nerves in its pulp. Unless you also underwent a root canal before crown placement, those nerves are still active and susceptible to injury and infection.
The crown itself can begin to put increasing pressure on an exposed or traumatized nerve, and this too can lead to infection.
To tell if your crown is infected, notice whether or not you are experiencing any of the following signs or symptoms:
- Toothache, which causes a constant throbbing
- Swelling in the jaw near the location of the crown
- Inflammation or swelling of the gums around the crown area
- Pain when chewing or biting down
- Tooth sensitivity to temperatures (hot or cold) or sugary foods and drinks
- Pain or tenderness in the areas surrounding the crown
- Increasing redness at the area of crown placement
- A discharge of yellow, green, or clear fluid or pus that appears to be draining or leaking out around or under the crown
- A warmth limited to that one area within your mouth with no other explanation
- Bad breath or an odd odor emitting from the area of the crown
- Development of a fever with no other apparent cause
- Swollen lymph nodes on the sides of the neck
Once you notice you have any of these signs or symptoms, it’s time to contact your dentist and schedule an appointment. You may need a root canal and antibiotics to cure the infection and return you to a healthy mouth.
Contact Stiles Dental Care for More Information or to Schedule an Appointment
When it comes to your overall dental health, Stiles Dental Care has the answers and treatments you need. If you are currently experiencing symptoms that may indicate an infection at the site of a crown placement, call our office and schedule an appointment today. Dr. Stiles and his team will conduct a full dental examination, keeping in mind any pain or sensitivities you are experiencing, and provide you with a personalized treatment plan.