Having pain in a tooth can be unpleasant, but also concerning, especially if you've had work done on that tooth before. If you have a dental crown and are experiencing discomfort or pain in the tooth that it's covering, it's highly likely that you need a new dental crown. Here's how you can tell and why it's a necessity.
What's Likely Going On
Dental crowns are supposed to keep teeth safe, both structurally and with regards to the nerve endings they use to sense touch, heat, and cold. Crowns are very effective at this, but no dental prosthetic is designed to last forever. Dental crowns, after a while, can start to break down, either from damage to the crown itself or because its seal is failing. Dental crowns don't typically experience either of these problems for a long time after receiving one, but as they become older, the dental cement used to secure them often weakens. Excessive pressure on a crown can also cause damage, so if you grind your teeth, you're more likely to have your crown start to break down.
Once this happens, pain can occur. The nerves in your tooth are now closer to the surface and may be exposed to dangerous substances that can cause irritation and discomfort.
What Crowns Normally Do
Dental crowns are designed to cover and protect teeth after they've had work done on them, like having a deep cavity drilled, or a root canal. While the tooth itself will have been filled by your dentist, which helps to support it, it may not have been strong enough to tolerate being bitten and chewed on. Dental crowns resolve this problem in two separate ways.
The first is that a dental crown provides a cover for the affected tooth, taking stress off of it. When you bite down, the crown absorbs most of the pressure, keeping your tooth from being crushed or hurting.
Secondly, dental crowns are often used to eliminate the risk of the tooth being exposed to things like bacteria and debris in your mouth. These elements can potentially trigger pain, damage, and infection, so it's important for crowns to be properly seated and sealed.
How to Get Help
If you're having pain, you should see a dentist right away. In some cases, dental crowns can simply be removed and reseated, if the only problem is that the cement has broken down. However, a full replacement may be necessary. Your dentist will inspect the crown to determine if the crown is still safe to use or not, as well as determine if the tooth underneath has experienced any further problems that may require treatment.