Why Does Even a Small Crack in Your Crown Deserve Your Dentist's Attention?
Dental crowns should last for a long time – their exact lifespan will depend on the amount of wear and tear they encounter and how effectively you keep your mouth free of plaque and bacteria. However, they will eventually start to fail, and your crown may crack under pressure. In some cases, the whole crown comes away, but often the crack is quite small and seemingly easy to deal with.
That said, it isn't a problem you should ignore. Even if you're experiencing no pain or discomfort, there are plenty of reasons why even the smallest flaw in your crown merits the attention of your dentist.
Decay and Infection
One of the main benefits that comes with fitting a crown is ensuring the underlying tooth is completely protected. To perform its role effectively, a crown needs to cover the entire tooth. If any cracks or fractures develop, bacteria, plaque, and food debris is going to invade the place between crown and tooth. Since your toothbrush and floss cannot reach inside, you run a high risk of developing an infection or decay. If these issues are allowed to develop, you may need to have the underlying tooth extracted entirely.
It isn't just the invasion of plaque, bacteria, and food debris that makes decay and infection more likely. Outer tooth surface will have been removed to accommodate your crown in the first place. Unfortunately, the outer tooth surface is the toughest part. When part of it is ground away to make space for a crown, the tooth pulp isn't as protected. When the surrounding crown is also compromised, drinking or eating anything hot or cold is more likely to result in an unexpected stab of sensitivity.
A crown doesn't just protect the underlying tooth. In fact, the crown is essentially performing the function your tooth was supposed to perform – when you chew, it's the crown that takes the pressure. The crown's loss of structural integrity is something to worry about. Even a small crack places added stain on the underlying tooth, so you may also crack the tooth. Additionally, the sharp edges of a cracked crown can easily irritate or even cut your tongue.
Lastly, keep in mind that small cracks lead to larger ones. If you don't replace your crown, it may come away altogether, potentially forming a choking hazard. Dentists often recommend that patients try to remove a badly cracked crown themselves for just this reason.