If the decay has barely begun, this should be fairly easy to fix with a filling.
More progressed potential problems
If the cavity is between the teeth, this is an area that cannot be easily accessed to repair the tooth with a filling. If the cavity penetrates the protective hard layer of the tooth and involves the softer dentin layer, it can cause an infection in the inner pulp layer affecting your tooth’s nerves and blood vessels. This can progress very rapidly if not treated.
Treatment of potential problems
Unless the decay is minimal, needing only a filling, the crown has to be removed along with the decay beneath it. We will then replace the old crown with a new crown which will reseal the tooth and protect from decay and infection. If the inner pulp layer is affected, a root canal may be needed to remove all the infected tissue. A new crown is then placed over the tooth.
The images below show two FAILING CROWNS, the first with margin decay and the second after a root canal needed because of decay involving the pulp of the tooth (white plug is temporary). Both crowns will have to be replaced.
Crown after a root canal from extensive margin decay.
Crown with margin decay.
If these problems are not treated
The infection will spread within the tooth, and could pass into the jawbone causing an abscess. This can be very painful and can damage the bone surrounding your tooth.
Preventive care to help you avoid these problems includes:
- Thorough toothbrushing
- Using dental floss to reach areas between the teeth
- Use of a Proxabrush to remove plaque and food debris between the teeth
- Regular dental checkups and cleanings
More information online:
- Dental Crowns by Animated-Teeth.com
- American Dental Association
- Academy of General Dentistry