Updated: Oct 14
You most certainly can get a gum infection around a crown because crowns protect your teeth but they don't protect your gums. Basically, even if you got a crown on every tooth in your mouth, it would not prevent gum infections nor would it prevent gum disease. Therefore, having a crown offers no additional benefits for your gum health.
With that being said, there can be a variety of factors that may cause a gum infection near your crown. Some of them may be related while others are purely coincidental.
The gum infection around crowns don't look any different from one not around any crowns. The only difference is that they're near some dental crowns. What it looks like is:
Red poofy gums
Swollen and larger than normal
Bleeds very easily upon touching
Possible presence of white pus
This article will explore what can possibly cause it, how to treat it, and what you can do to prevent it from happening again.
Table of Contents:
What can cause a gum infection around a crown?
Gum infections can happen around crowns which can be related to the crown but it could also be completely unrelated as well. Your gums could be swollen around just that one tooth or it could be multiple teeth.
Crown related causes
Bulky crown shape. If the shape of the crown is excessively bulky, it may cause chronic inflammation and irritation to the gums. It will also be a source of trapping plaque around the margins of the crown where it is bulky. Constant inflammation may eventually lead to a gum infection.
Insufficient interproximal contact. The interproximal contact is the space that you floss through between two teeth. If you have light contact or no contact at all between your crown and adjacent teeth, it could trap a lot of food. Trapped food that is not removed will eventually cause the gums to swell and may lead to a gum infection.
Broken crown. If your dental crown is cracked, it can cause a lot of food, plaque, and bacteria to get trapped within the crevices. This can lead to a lot of gum bleeding and possible infection in the long run.
Issues that are NOT related to the crown integrity
Lodged foreign object. Most commonly, popcorn kernels or small hard pieces of food can get lodged into the gums during means. If the patient is not able to remove it on their own, the gums will swell up over the next few days and turn into a gum abscess. If this happens near your crown, it wouldn't have been the crown that caused it but merely a coincidence!
Localized gum disease. If you have a lot of tartar that is stuck below the gums near the crown, it can result in severe swelling and bleeding. This would have had nothing to do with the crown itself but rather from the presence of tartar, which resulted in severe gingivitis. The body perceives the tartar as a foreign body and tries to get rid of it by activating inflammation.
Pregnancy tumor. Pregnant women can develop pregnancy tumors, which looks like a gum abscess. If the patient happens to develop this condition around a dental crown, it would seem as if the crown caused the gum infection. While in fact, the gum swelling is a result of the body overreacting to the plaque due to abnormal hormonal levels during pregnancy.
Gingival hyperplasia. Certain medications can cause the gums to grow and swell up, which look like an infection. This condition is called gingival hyperplasia, which may be commonly induced by phenytoin, cyclosporine, and calcium channel blockers. If you're taking one of those medications and your gums look swollen and infected, you may want to ask your doctor about the dosage.
Scurvy. People who don't get enough vitamin C in their diet can develop scurvy with ascorbic gums. Their gums will look red, poofy, swollen, and bleeds easily. If you happen to have crowns nearby, it may look like it was caused by it.
Treatment for a gum infection around crowns
For gum infections that are due to a defective crown, the treatment would be to replace it. Your dentist can make you a brand new one that is not broken and less bulky so that it is more friendly on the gums. They can change the shape of it to make it more hygienic so that it is more easily cleansable.
For gingival infections that are not related to the crown, replacing the restoration will do nothing to stop the problem. In this case, you would have to treat whatever is causing the gum swelling and inflammation.
For lodged foreign objects, your dentist will need to physically remove it and then debride the gums to reduce the swelling.
For any type of gum disease, you will most likely require a dental cleaning or even a deep cleaning to get the gum inflammation under control. This will usually cure the the gum disease as well as pregnancy tumors.
For a medication related issue, you will need to see the doctor who prescribed it for you to discuss possible alternatives. You may still need to see your dentist to have the gums flushed out and cleaned.
For nutritional deficiencies all you need to do is to start getting in that nutrient that you're missing. It should resolve within a few weeks once you do.
How to prevent a gum infection
Even after getting rid of a gum infection, they can always return because there is no permanent cure. The best that you can do is manage your oral health as best as you can by keeping it clean. Here are some tips that you should follow to minimize gum infections around crowns:
Avoid hard foods. Foods with very hard textures are detrimental to your dentition and that includes dental crowns. They can not only break your teeth but also your porcelain crowns. If you like eating these types of foods you will run the risk of damaging the crowns and possibly end up with a gum infection.
Oral hygiene. The best way to prevent your gums from swelling up and ending up as an infection is by maintaining a strict oral hygiene routine. You don't want to give the tartar and plaque any opportunity to cause inflammation. Therefore you should brush for at least 2 minutes twice a day. You should also floss prior going to bed and use a mouthwash of your choice.
Replace defective crowns. If you do have a damaged dental crown, you should still have it replaced even if your gums are not infected nor swollen. You don't want to wait until it happens because then it becomes a bigger problem. It also requires additional treatment and could possibly cause you more discomfort.
Healthy diet. Make sure you eat a healthy and balanced diet so that you don't end up with nutritional deficiencies. As you can see, there are quite a few diseases that cause your gums to swell up because of a missing nutrient in your diet. It may be a good idea to check in with a dietitian to make sure you're in optimal health diet wise.
It is not unusual to get a gum infection around a crown. Some of the causes may be related to the dental crown itself while other times it may be completely unrelated but merely a coincidence.
Nonetheless, you should schedule an appointment with your dentist to have it evaluated. The treatments for it usually require a dentist and there isn't too much that you can do at home, especially if it is due to a defective crown. This is why it is important to go in for your 6 month dental check ups so that you can catch these problems before they result in a gum infection.
Author: Written by Dr David Chen, a general dentist in long island city.