Dental Infections Under Crowns & How They Are Treated

20 January 2017
 Categories: Dentist, Articles


Dental crowns are often necessary to restore a damaged tooth so it does not need to be extracted. The crown process is often lengthy, but the resulting tooth cap can last for 25 to 30 years. For many people, this means a repaired tooth that does not need a replacement crown in the future. While this is true, you may experience a bit of discomfort after receiving the crown. This can happen for a variety of reasons, including an infection in the tooth. Keep reading to learn about this issue and how your dentist may fix the problem.

Dental Infections Under Tooth Crowns

Tooth crowns are often secured over teeth that have gone through root canal treatments. Root canals leave a fragile, dry, and dead tooth behind, and the crown helps to keep the tooth from cracking or breaking. While a crown may be needed when a root canal is performed, this is not the only reason why one may be needed. Large breaks, like fractured cusps and horizontal cracks may require protection. 

If a tooth has been broken, your dentist will complete a number of inspections and treatments to prepare the tooth. These inspections include x-rays to make sure that the tooth pulp is intact and that cracks do not extend into the middle of the tooth. Enamel removal is also completed so the tooth is small enough for crown adhesion. 

During the preparation process, several things can happen that can lead to an internal tooth infection. Cracks can widen a bit from the stress and reach the pulp chamber. This can allow bacteria into the tooth. Also, if the tooth contains a filling already, then the grinding process can loosen the filling and let bacteria gather underneath. An infection can then develop.

While infections after the placement of a crown are rare, they can happen on occasion. Let your dentist know immediately if you feel pain after crown adhesion. Infection pain often radiates through the jaw and head. The tooth may also feel sensitive when you bite on it and release throbbing pains due to the pressure. Infections also can cause low-grade fevers as well as swollen lymph nodes. If you have a tooth infection, then pain will typically feel worse when you lie down. This can make it difficult for you to sleep at night. 

X-rays will be required to locate and identify the infection. Treatment can then be arranged once it is found.

Treatment for Infections

If an infection is located in the crown tooth, then treatment can be provided in several different ways. A root canal will be performed to remove the infected pulp. The infection can occur either through the dental crown, or the device will need to be removed and replaced. The removal of the crown is often recommended to thoroughly clean out the tooth. This helps to ensure a more complete treatment and fewer issues in the future. Unfortunately, this requires the creation and placement of a new crown. You will still be able to retain your natural tooth and no new tooth preparation will be needed. For example, the tooth will not need to be ground down further. 

If you do not want to pay for a brand new device, then the professional can complete a root canal through crown. An access cavity is drilled through the crown. This is similar to the hole created in the enamel during a traditional root canal. However, the opening will be smaller. This can lengthen the amount of time it takes to perform the root canal since the access point with be narrow. 

Most dental crowns can be fitted with a porcelain cap that fits over the access openings after the treatment is over. This cap, as well as the rest of the dental crown, will need to be examined regularly. Chips and cracks can occur around the access opening. If damage is noted, then the crown will need to be replaced.