Dental crowns are a type of restorative dentistry procedure designed to remove damaged enamel and save your natural tooth from further decay, which could result in it needing to be fully extracted. While dental crowns are safe and have a proven track record in dental applications, teeth treated with crowns are not invulnerable to further decay or accompanying pain. In fact, crowned teeth are just as susceptible to pain, sensitivity, and infection as untreated teeth. If your tooth still hurts after crown placement, there could be several reasons why—but don’t worry! There are plenty of treatment options available as well.
What Is a Dental Crown?
Dental crowns are simply caps that are placed over infected or damaged teeth that are meant to mimic the natural shape, size, and strength of your natural teeth. They are usually made of either porcelain, ceramic, or metal. After your dentist removes the infected parts of your enamel, the crown is fitted in place over the remaining material and cemented into place for a tight-fitting, natural-looking solution. If you have persistent tooth pain after crown placement, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the procedure wasn’t effective, but it can be a sign that you need to further consult with your dentist.
What Are the Causes of Tooth Pain After Crown Procedures?
Tooth sensitivity after crown procedures or pain in the surrounding areas usually happens when the initial problem the crown was supposed to treat remains, or because of a problem with the fit or placement of the crown itself. Some of the most common causes of tooth pain after crowns are:
Tooth Decay Under the Crown
Usually, crowns are put in place to stop decay in the tooth’s enamel. This decay can cause swelling and put pressure on the tooth’s root and nerve, which causes pain. If you still experience tooth pain after crown placement, it’s possible that your dentist didn’t remove all of the decayed material underneath the crown and the decay is still progressing.
Crowns do not form a completely bacteria-proof seal between them and your teeth, and infection can take place in the same way that it occasionally does in non-crowned teeth. If your crowned tooth was not treated with a root canal beforehand, then there are still live roots and nerves inside that tooth that can become infected due to cavities or gum infection—usually due to improper dental hygiene. Infected crowns can put pressure on the nerve endings, causing pain and sensitivity.
If your crown was not properly sized or aligned before placement, the resulting pressure on other teeth or the gums may cause discomfort or pain. This will be especially evident when biting down or chewing.
Crowns can be cracked or chipped from physical trauma just like natural teeth. Tooth sensitivity after crown placement can be due to a crack in the crown exposing the root or pulp of the tooth to hot, cold, or even exceedingly sweet foods.
Gum Inflammation After Crown Placement
Because your natural enamel has to be filed away to make room for the placement of a crown, sometimes the process or presence of a crown can inflame the surrounding gums. Gum inflammation after dental procedures is common and usually goes away on its own in the following hours or days. However, if the pain persists, look out for potential gum infection around crown sites which may require advanced treatment to cure.
How to Treat Tooth Crown Pain
It’s natural to experience a little discomfort after dental procedures—usually due to the disruption of sensitive nerve endings in your mouth—and there are a few home remedies you can try in the hours and days immediately after your procedure to alleviate it.
Consult with your doctor or dentist if you can take over-the-counter pain medication to treat your symptoms. Be sure that any OTC medications you take can safely interact with any prescription medication you take as well.
Salt Water Rinse
A simple mix of 1 tablespoon salt in six ounces of water can create a sterile solution to soothe inflamed tissues in your mouth. Rinse and spit with this solution, do not swallow it.
Certain herbal remedies have been proven to fight bacteria and alleviate pain in the mouth. Some of these include raw garlic, honey, clove, ginger, turmeric, and chamomile.
Foods to Avoid
Try to stay away from especially hard, crunchy, sticky, or sweet foods after your crown placement procedure as they may cause discomfort during the healing process. Hot or cold foods and liquids can also have a similar effect.
When to See a Dentist
If your tooth pain after crown placement persists for more than a few days, is acute, or becomes steadily worse over time, it may be time to schedule a follow-up appointment with your dentist. Only a dentist can tell you if your symptoms qualify for emergency dental services.
Your dentist will examine the crown and diagnose the root problem of your pain or sensitivity. If they determine your symptoms are caused by further decay or infection, your crown may require re-treatment. In this procedure, your dentist removes the crown, excises the infected or decayed tooth material, and refits the crown. Infection may also be treated with a round of antibiotic medication if necessary.
If your tooth pain is caused by an ill-fitting crown, your dentist will make adjustments to the crown by filing off material around the gum or where the crown meets the tooth above or below for an improperly matched bite. A cracked or damaged crown may be repaired depending on the extent of the damage or may need to be fully replaced. If damaged badly enough to affect the underlying tooth, your dentist may decide that you require an extraction procedure, in which case they can talk to you about the benefits and tradeoffs of dental implants vs dental crowns.
The Bottom Line
Dental crowns are most commonly used to treat painful or potentially dangerous dental decay or infection. In fact, most patients report that their tooth pain actually ceases after the placement of a crown. However, in some instances, tooth sensitivity after crown procedures can qualify as a recurring dental problem in need of treatment. If this happens, the professionals at Champagne Family Dentistry in Sparks are more than equipped to treat your tooth pain and find a lasting solution for your smile. If you are experiencing tooth pain after a crown procedure, have questions about crown placement, or simply need a consultation with a qualified dental professional, call or visit our clinic today!