You might have heard that dental crowns won't be affected by decay, unlike natural teeth. This is actually true, but there's a bit more to it than that.
It might be helpful to settle some confusion about what a dental crown actually is. Those with a gap in their smile might have that gap filled with a dental implant. This is a titanium bolt inserted into your jaw, finished with a prosthetic tooth, which is referred to as a dental crown. When a natural tooth has deteriorated but can still be saved, it's fitted with a porcelain shell which allows it to retain its strength and functionality. This shell is also called a dental crown. The crown can either be a protective shell fitted over an existing tooth or an entire prosthetic tooth fitted to a dental implant.
Crowns and Decay
A dental crown can't decay, but it still needs to be kept clean. But while the crown that finishes a dental implant won't decay, a dental crown fitted over an existing tooth might be affected by decay, without ever decaying itself. A dental crown fitted over a tooth can become destabilized when the underlying natural tooth continues to deteriorate.
A Crumbling Foundation
While the crown itself remains intact, its foundation is literally crumbling. This is clearly a considerable problem. The crown has strengthened the tooth, but it has not made it invulnerable. Oral bacteria can still attack the underlying tooth, leading to decay. The best way to avoid this is by being vigilant with your oral hygiene. But how would you even know if the tooth beneath your crown has become compromised?
Signs of Trouble
Despite the presence of the crown, a troublesome tooth will generally be quite obvious. The tooth can become pressure-sensitive, creating a jolt of discomfort when you bite down into a piece of food. Additionally, the gum tissue directly beneath the questionable tooth can become irritated and inflamed. Get to a dentist as soon as you can. A dental crown can even make the whole process somewhat more complex since the crown can disguise the extent of any damage.
The protective shell of a dental crown cannot decay, but it's important to remember that the underlying tooth certainly can, so should you experience any discomfort, or even anything out of the ordinary — this should be treated as a sign that you need to see your dentist.