Is Tooth Decay Under a Dental Crown a Serious Problem?

Dental crowns, those tooth-shaped caps that restore the structure of your damaged or decayed tooth, are a common solution for many dental issues. They’re cemented into place, fully encasing the visible portion of your natural tooth at and above the gumline. But even with these protective “caps”, tooth decay under a dental crown is still possible.

What is Tooth Decay Under a Crown?

Tooth decay under a crown refers to a cavity that forms underneath the cap placed over a damaged or decayed tooth. A dental crown, which replicates the natural tooth’s size, shape, and function protects the tooth from further harm. However, it isn’t invincible. Over time, bacteria may accumulate around the crown’s base, leading to decay under the crown itself. This buildup can trigger tooth sensitivity, pain, and even infection. Left untreated, it can cause severe harm to the underlying tooth and surrounding structures.

Causes of Tooth Decay Under Crown

In spite of regular dental hygiene, tooth decay under a crown can occur. The primary culprit? Poor oral hygiene. If you neglect your oral care and allow bacteria and plaque to build up, tooth decay beneath a dental crown can happen. Plus, it’s paramount to keep track of whether the crown feels loose as an increased gingival recession exposed root surfaces, which is a common issue with dental crowns.

Signs and Symptoms of Tooth Decay Under Crown

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Understanding the signs and symptoms of tooth decay beneath a crown helps stave off severe damage:

  1. Tooth Sensitivity – If brushing a sensitive tooth brings discomfort, decay may be the root cause.
  2. Tooth Pain – This can be a warning sign of tooth decay under a crown.
  3. Crown Pulling Away from Tooth – When the tooth breaks down under the crown and creates a gap, it means there’s nothing binding the crown to the tooth. As a result, dental work might break off, indicating decay under the crown.

How to Prevent Tooth Decay Under a Crown

While dental crowns are fantastic at restoring damaged teeth, they are not immune to decay. Following a thorough dental care regimen can fend off decay and prolong the lifespan of your dental crowns. Let’s delve into some effective preventive measures.

Regular Dental Check-ups and Cleanings

Regular visits to your dentist not only play a pivotal role in your overall oral health but also in maintaining the health of your crown. Dentists are able to do an efficient cleaning, and are able to spot and address any complications with your crown early on. At the very least, you should be visiting your dentist once every four to six months for a routine checkup and cleaning.

Your dentist will monitor the edges of the crown where it attaches to the tooth. It’s a hot spot for food particles to slip in and cause decay. Addressing them promptly ensures that your crown, and your tooth underneath, remains safe and bacteria free.

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Proper Oral Hygiene Practices

Regular brushing and flossing are crucial to preventing bacterial buildup around dental crowns. Brush your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and floss daily to remove the hidden plaque around the crowns.

Rinsing your mouth with water after each meal and using an antimicrobial mouthwash can exterminate bacteria in the mouth, reducing the risk of decay. Make sure to focus on the gum lines and the margins of your dental work.

Incorporating an electric toothbrush in your hygiene routine can make a noticeable difference! And remember, flossing won’t tamper with your dental work unless it’s already loose or affected by cavities.

Avoiding Hard and Sticky Foods

Your diet significantly influences the health of your teeth – the same holds true even if you are wearing a dental crown. Steering clear of certain food can aid in fending off potential damage to the crown and the tooth it’s shielding.

Avoid foods that require a lot of chewing, such as steak, popcorn, hard candy, and sticky items like gum and raisins. These foods can put undue stress on your dental crown, making it susceptible to damage.

Sugary or acidic foods and drinks, like orange juice and coffee, can contribute to an acidic environment in your oral cavity which can contribute to the development of decay around the crown. Remember that tooth decay doesn’t start unless the pH drops below a critical 5.5 level.

Keeping your diet light on sweets, acidic and sour foods assures a better life for your crown and a healthier cavity-free smile.

Implementing these preventive measures can help you keep your dental crowns intact and your smile beautifully radiant.

Treatment Options for Tooth Decay Under Crown

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Decay beneath a crown can be a serious issue. If left unaddressed, it may harm not only your crowned tooth but also its surrounding teeth. In worst-case scenarios, it might even lead to a loss of bone mass in the jaw.

So what’s the first line of defense? Early detection and removal of the infected tooth structure. The decayed portion is rigorously removed and the underlying area scrupulously cleaned, eliminating the risk of further decay. It’s important to remember that a filling or a crown doesn’t develop cavities, the tooth beneath does. Thus, regular checks, even post crown fitting, help maintain the health of the underlying tooth.

Once decay removal is done, it’s crucial to rethink the crown situation. Often, the existing crown needs to be replaced owing to the affected tooth’s integral structure. A new crown is key to properly seal the tooth and prevent further decay.


Tooth decay under your crown can’t be taken lightly. It’s a serious issue that can damage not only the crowned tooth but also the ones around it if not treated. Your best defense is early detection and immediate removal of the decayed tooth structure. Once the decay is out, you might need to get a new crown to effectively seal the tooth and ward off further decay. Your dental health is important, so don’t let tooth decay under a crown sneak up on you.


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