How do I know if my tooth crown is infected? 11 signs of an infected crown and what to do about it

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Dental crowns are life-saving solutions and aesthetically look nice, however, like your natural teeth, that area can get infected too. So, you might be wondering this question “how do I know if my tooth crown is infected?”.

There are a couple of things you can check to understand if your crown is infected before you see a dentist. For example, pain is the number one reason why you would think that your crown is infected. But does it have to be an infection? We gathered the symptoms of tooth crown infection in this writing so that you can tell or at least have an idea of tooth crown infection.

So, here is the big question.

How could you tell if your tooth crown is infected?

The crown itself does not get infected, but the tooth underneath could get an infection. Crown is just a side problem for an infection. It is placed over your teeth to protect your inner tooth structure just like your natural tooth cover, enamel. Your tooth under the crown can get infected.

There are a couple of things you can check visually to see if there is a problem. A swelling or reddish color around your crown is generally considered an infection. Besides these problems, pain is the most common reason why your crown might be infected, but how can you be sure if they are the actual reasons behind the infection?

We explained all the possible reasons in detail so that you can find an answer to your question “how do I know if my tooth crown is infected?”.

You may have pain in the infected crown

The most obvious sign of infection on your crown is tooth pain. Remember that you still have the real tooth beneath the crown. The infection begins with the decaying and it gets worse over time. It does not heal itself as there is no connection to the outside. You might feel the tooth pain more when you lie down as the blood circulation to your head becomes denser.

The pain mostly reaches its peak point when there is swelling occurs in your tooth. The swelling is the worst part because there is limited space in your tooth. You feel the pain through the nerves in your tooth.

You may have tooth sensitivity to hot and cold foods

The infection reaches the inner part of your tooth with the small cavities. Your dentin and nerves are exposed during this situation which might be painful and makes you sensitive. When you eat hot and cold foods there is a sudden temperature difference occurs. This increases the stress level of your teeth which makes you feel uncomfortable.

You may feel your crown is loose

If your permanent crown is loose, it does not necessarily mean that your crown is infected, however, it might lead to it. When your crown is loose, your dentin becomes more vulnerable to decaying and getting an infection eventually. The opposite of this situation is also possible. When your real tooth beneath the crown has started to decay it loosens your crown too. Both of these are problematic and you should see a dentist to fix the problem before it’s too late.

If your temporary crown is loose, the same problems might occur as your inner layer, dentin, is exposed.

You may have a decaying

It is possible to see decay on crowns. Because of decaying your crown gets thinner and weakens in time making your real tooth exposed to bacterial infection. You might see brownish, yellow color or plaque formation on your crown if it is decaying.

You may suffer from bad breath and taste

Bad breath is one of the signs of infection as there is a bacteria accumulation in your infected tooth. Infection changes the general status of your mouth. This might give you a bad taste and smelly breath.

You may feel pressure on your jaw

As the infection in the crown gets worse, you feel it more intensely. The infection gains weight with swelling and added a throbbing feeling it gives you a pressure sensation over your teeth and jaws.

You may see redness around your tooth

Infection might be seen in your gums as well. Gum infection and crown infection are different things, but they are related; they might trigger each other. Reddish gums are not a good sign as you can tell, and you should see your dentist before it gets too bad.

You may have a gum recession

If your gums are receded after you got a tooth crown, it creates a space between your gum line and tooth crown, where bacteria can grow. As a result of bacteria accumulation in that space, your tooth could get infected.

You may have a fever

Fever is one of the common reasons for infection. Your body’s natural defense mechanism starts to protect you from the infection and it sends some of the fighting agents to your blood vessels. After they got into your bloodstream, the reaction of fever comes after it.

You may feel nausea, dizziness, and a headache

An infection in your crown does not just affect your mouth. The mouth takes a big part in the bloodstream and when you get a dental infection, it might reach all over your body. It gives you a sick feeling that is like you have nausea. Besides dizziness, a headache is also possible once your teeth are infected.

You may see facial swelling

Facial swelling can be seen after a tooth infection gets worse and creates an abscess under your tooth crown. You can feel the swelling in your cheek accompanied by pain.

We talked about the symptoms of a tooth crown infection. Now, let’s talk about what to do for tooth crown infection!

What to do for tooth crown infection

Now that you found many possible answers to the question of “how do I know if my tooth crown is infected”, you can check this part to keep your crown steady for a while. There are some points you should be careful about if you think you have a crown infection. We also added the emergency conditions to inform you about the dangerous side effects of crown infection. So, let’s start with dentist treatments for the infected crown.

What do dentists do to fix a tooth crown infection?

They first take an X-ray of your tooth to make sure there is an infection and to see how bad it is. After that, they apply one of these methods depending on the severity of the infection.

  • Dental crown replacement:
    In some cases, tooth crown infection is not the case, and you might just have a problem with your dentin area which is fine. They simply clean the decayed dentin part and replace your crown with a new one putting it over your tooth again.
  • Root canal treatment:
    If the infection is not far deep in your tooth, they might give you a root canal treatment. With the root canal treatment, they numb your nerves and clean the infected area covering it with fillings. After that, you can get your new crown over the root canal procedure.
  • Tooth removal:
    In some conditions, your infection gets worse making your teeth both dangerous and untreatable. In that case, dentists pull the infected teeth and clean the infection area in your gums to make sure it won’t spread. After your tooth is extracted, your dentist might recommend a dental implant or crown bridge.
  • Antibiotics:
    After getting a root canal treatment or tooth removal, dentists might prescribe you antibiotics to support your immune system with the remaining infection in your body. In some serious cases, they could give you antibiotics before the operation.

What to avoid if your tooth crown is infected

If you think your tooth crown is infected and cannot go to a dentist right away, you should be careful not the worsen the infection. Here, we listed some of the things you should avoid while waiting for your dentist appointment.

  • Do not interfere with your crown for while, if you are thinking that it is infected. When you keep playing with your infected tooth it might worsen the scenario.
  • Keep away from acidic, extremely hot, and cold drinks. Make sure you chew on the other side of your mouth if possible. And chewing gum will not make the situation better, so do not please.
  • Do not try to fix it by yourself. You might break your crown, or the structure beneath it while trying to fix it. We know that pain is uncomfortable but that will not solve your problem and even makes it worse.

How to prevent tooth crown from infection

Before you have a tooth crown infection, there are a couple of things you can try and avoid to make sure your crown is healthy. Here, we listed some preventative methods to keep your crown intact and away from infection.

  • Avoid hard and sugary foods so that your teeth won’t be under bacterial attack and won’t crack. A chipped, cracked or broken tooth crown is susceptible to infection.
  • A healthy diet is key to keeping your body’s defense mechanism strong. When you have a weak body defense it is more likely to see infection and long healing periods.
  • A dental hygiene routine is inevitable to keep away from infection. Use fluoride-added toothpaste and keep your tongue clean too.
  • Keep an eye on adjacent teeth. When you have a problem in the teeth next to your tooth crown, it is possible to see that tooth decay or infection might spread.
  • See your dentists at least twice a year, as dentists can foresee your dental future and might give you some preventative care way before you have any problem with your teeth.

Emergency conditions for infection

Some of the conditions we mentioned here are not just important for your oral health but also for your general health condition. Let’s take a look at, which condition you should take action to prevent any vital problem.

  • Tooth abscess:
    An abscessed tooth can be life-threatening. Not every time but you can tell if you have a tooth abscess. You can check your gums around the infected tooth to see if there is any reddish color. Your cheeks or face might be swollen with a throbbing feeling. Fever is also a side effect of tooth abscess. If you see any of these problems you better hurry to get a dental appointment.

PS: If you have more than 104 Fahrenheit because of infection immediately go to the nearest emergency care. It can be the final stage of infection where you grow a tooth abscess in your tooth root.

  • Having a sudden pain relief:
    If you noticed anything like this the abscess might erupt in your mouth. It might be hard to notice if your abscess erupts but you can tell if a weird fluid in your mouth has occurred. When your abscess erupts it spreads the infection to the adjacent area which is pretty dangerous. Getting emergency dental treatment is required.
  • If you are already on certain medicines:
    Some of the medicines are known to weaken your immune system such as cancer drugs. If you are on a medicine that is weakening your immune system your body struggles to fight against infection and it might get worse in no time.

References:

-Erazo D, Whetstone DR. Dental Infections. In: StatPearls. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; September 26, 2022. Link

-The Use of Dental Crowns for Endodontically Treated Teeth: A Review of the Clinical Effectiveness, Cost-effectiveness, and Guidelines. Ottawa (ON): Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health; May 13, 2015. Link

-Ahmadi H, Ebrahimi A, Ahmadi F. Antibiotic Therapy in Dentistry. Int J Dent. 2021;2021:6667624. Published 2021 Jan 28. doi:10.1155/2021/6667624 Link

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