Dental crown with cavity

Can a Crowned Tooth Get Cavity?

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When patients visit their dentist for their periodic checkup, dentists perform a thorough exam and there are cases where a cavity is detected on a tooth that has a crown on it. Dentists are often presented with the question: How did I get decay under a crowned tooth?

SEE ALSO: Dental Crowns: What You Need to Know

First let’s understand what the crown procedure is.

When your dentist makes a crown for you, he or she will remove all of the tooth decay or cavity that is present. The dentist then cuts around the whole tooth so that a crown can fit over the remaining tooth structure to build a normal-shaped tooth.

How decay happens under the crown?

Decay under a crown happens because of plaque - a biofilm of food debris and bacteria – that usually forms at the gum line. This is the area of the crown which is known as the margin, the junction where the tooth and crown meet.

If plaque is allowed to form at the margin and not removed, then a new cavity will eventually form and you will need your crown to be replaced. This is why it is important to maintain proper oral hygiene to remove the plaque from your teeth and crowns.

What can you do to maintain your crown?

Crowns are built from long-lasting materials, however just like anything else, they are prone to wear.

Regular brushing and flossing are mandatory for the longevity of your crown. Brushing and flossing help remove all food debris and plaque around the tooth and reduce the chance of having decay. Special cleaning tools may be needed too, at times.

Early detection through regular dental visits every 3-6 months is important. Dental exams allow your dentist to examine the margins of all your restorations including fillings, veneers and crowns to find any signs of new cavities. Regular dental checkups and cleanings reduce the amount of destruction that may happen to the tooth under the crown.

X-rays are often used as a supplement to help your dentist inspect the margin between the teeth that is not visible with the naked eye.

If you have a crown that is cracked or loose, or if you feel discomfort or sensitivity, consult your dentist right away.
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