If you have damaged one of your teeth extensively, then your dentist may suggest that a dental crown be placed over the tooth to save it from extraction. Dental crowns are permanently glued into place over a prepared tooth. Resin-based cements are typically used in the process. While this seals the tooth inside the porcelain or metal crown, a small portion of the tooth may be exposed around the gumline. This exposed area can form a cavity and decay can build underneath the crown. The crown may need to be removed so the cavity can be treated. In some cases, there will not be enough natural tooth material left for a new crown to be secured. To prevent this sort of problem and the possible need for a future extraction, follow the tips below.
Clean Around The Crown
When a crown is made for a tooth, the edges of the cap are created so they sit just at the base of the gumline or a small amount underneath it. The crown edges are tapered down against the edge of the tooth. A small ridge is created around the tooth where the crown stops. This forms a ledge or space where food, plaque, and bacteria can gather. This can easily cause decay to form in the region.
If you want to prevent decay, then make sure to clean thoroughly around the edge or ridge of the dental crown when you brush your teeth. Brush normally around the dental crown with a toothpaste that has a mild abrasive agent. Pick a product that contains baking soda or natural sea salt. Try to stay away from pastes that contain synthetic and harsh abrasives like aluminum oxide or silica. Strong abrasives can scratch the dental crown and create openings where bacteria can gather.
Once you brush your teeth, use a flossing tool called an interproximal flosser or brusher. These tools feature small, thin, and tufted brushes that can be worked around the edge of the dental crown. This will help to remove debris in the same way that traditional floss can, but the flosser will release more debris. You can opt for a water flosser as well. If you use one of these tools, make sure to angle the spray at a 45 degree angle against the tooth where the crown edge is seen. This will help to force water around the crown margin to clear away debris.
Invest In Regular Inspections
Even with regular cleaning, a cavity may still form. If decay is small enough and also located at the base of the crown, your dentist may be able to create a filling. You will need to invest in regular six month check-ups so the crown-covered tooth can be thoroughly examined. If decay is noted, then an x-ray can be performed. However, it may be difficult for your dentist to see the cavity right away when x-ray images are created, especially if the crown contains a layer of metal underneath the porcelain. Your dentist will need to find the right angle of the x-ray head and the film to capture an image of the cavity. Be patient with your dentist. A few different images may be needed to direct the x-ray beam at an angle underneath the metal.
You may be afraid of the radiation that the dental x-rays will expose your body to. Keep in mind that a single x-ray will expose you to as much radiation as you will experience if you enjoy a day outside in the sun. This is simply not enough radiation to cause concern, even if several x-rays are performed and your dentist opts for more radiation-intensive panoramic images.