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Signs & Symptoms of a Bad Fitting Crown

A well fitting dental crown should fit so well that you won't even be able to tell the difference between your tooth cap and your natural teeth. A bad fitting crown is very noticeable because it is often wrought with a lot of signs and symptoms that leave a lot of be desired.


We'll provide you with a full list of symptoms and signs of how you can tell if it doesn't fit properly.


Bad fitting crown symptoms:


If you notice any of the above, you may want to have the issue fixed such as having the crown adjusted or maybe even replace it completely. We will explain what all of these conditions are and what you can do to correct them.


Crown falls off frequently

If your crown falls off quite frequently, that is a sign that it doesn't fit over your tooth very well. That is not normal because one that fits well may only fall off once every couple of years. If yours is coming off much more often than that, you should get it checked out.


Causes:

  • Short clinical crown - short teeth often do have retention issues.

  • Weak crown cement - maybe you need a different type of permanent glue.

  • Wrong type of crown - a cemented on crown is less retentive than a bonded on one.


short clinical crown
short clinical crown

How to fix it: The best way to fix a non-retentive tooth cap is by replacing it with a new one. Although your dentist should also implement retention grooves, use the strongest cement possible, and use a ceramic that is bondable to increase retentiveness.



Margin overhang

A crown with a very wide margin can result in an overhang. This can make the cap feel very bulky and it'll be prone to trapping food. You may find a lot of bleeding while you're flossing and potential foul odors.


Causes:

  • The cap was made to be too large for the tooth underneath of it.

  • Excessive porcelain that is too bulky.


crown margin overhang x-ray

How to fix it: The best solution for this condition is to completely replace the cap with a new one that is slimmer. Ensure that the dental lab technician makes the edge of the crown to be flush with the natural tooth structure.


Misshapen appearance

A misshapen crown that does not blend in nor match the adjacent teeth is considered ill fitting. The entire purpose of cosmetic dentistry is to have the dental work blend in seamlessly so no one knows you had anything done.


What a misshapen crown looks like:

  • Too long.

  • Too bulky.

  • Too skinny.

  • It just looks ugly.


How to fix it: The only way to reshape the crown is by replacing it with a new one. This time, you should convey your aesthetic preferences to the dental laboratory technician in as much detail as possible.


Cap feels loose

If the crown feels loose and it is moving around, that would certainly make for a poor fit. It'll be very uncomfortable to eat, chew, and speak with it.


Causes:

  • Cement has melted away.

  • The post under the crown may be loose. This is when the crown feels loose but isn't.

  • Tooth decay.


How to fix it: This could be a simple fix or it could be very complicated. If it's just the glue that has dissolved, all you'll need is just a fresh layer of new cement. However, if it is tooth decay or something to do with the post, it will require more complex treatment.


Large flossing gap

If you have a large flossing gap in front of or behind your crown, that could be considered ill fitting. Ideally, the cap should have "contact" which is that tightness you feel when you floss through. If the gap is very large and wide, it is easy for food to get jammed in between and that can be a potential future issue.


Causes:

  • The crown isn't big enough or wide enough to fill the space.

  • Your teeth may have drifted and the space opened afterwards.



How to fix it: A new tooth cap will need to be fabricated, one that is big enough to fill the entire tooth space. A well fitting one should have a little bit of tightness when you try to floss through.


Tight contact

A crown that is too tight to floss through can also be a problem. This would be on the opposite end of the spectrum from a large flossing gap. If you have trouble getting the floss in between your teeth, you won't be able to keep it clean.


Causes:

  • Crown is too big for the space.

  • Other teeth may be pushing such as impacted wisdom teeth.


How to fix it: This is one of the simpler fixes and does not require replacing the cap. You can adjust the existing one by relieving some of the contact with interproximal reduction. This involves using a sanding strip.



The images above show QwikStrips which are commonly used to relieve the tight contacts.


Bleeds a lot

A tooth cap that bleeds all the time when you floss, brush, and even with more frequent dental cleanings is a sign that its a bad fit.


Causes:

  • Margins are too deep.

  • Porcelain is too bulky.

  • Cap could be chipped or broken.


How to fix it: You will most likely need to have the crown remade.


Bad smell or taste

Do you constantly get a foul taste or foul odor coming from your crown tooth? That could very well be due to it being ill fitting and trapping food incessantly. You most likely feel like you need to floss after every single meal.


How to fix it: There is a high possibility you'll need a new tooth cap replacement. Perhaps the shape of it will need to be altered so that it is more hygienic.


Bite feels high

A tell tale sign of a crown with a bad fit is if the bite feels too high or off when you bite down. It'll feel uneven when you have your teeth together. When you eat it'll feel like you put excessive amounts of force on it when you chew.




How to fix it: Despite the horrid symptoms, the fix is a simple one because all you need to do is adjust the occlusion or bite. This can be done by shaving down the permanent crown with a diamond football bur. The adjustment visit should only take 5-10 minutes at most.


Gap between crown and gum line

Do you notice a gap in between the gum line and your crown? You can probably even stick your finger nail or toothpick into that space. That gap is a sign that your crown isn't fitting so well because a well fitting one wouldn't have one.



This space in between is prone to trapping food, plaque, and eventually develop into a cavity.


How to fix it: Replace the cap on your tooth with a new one that covers this gap.


Opposing tooth wear

If the tooth on the opposite arch looks a lot more worn down since you got your new crown, it could be an indication of a poor fit. It could be due to the cap being not polished enough. If the surface texture is very rough, it can cause a lot of wear on the opposing tooth.


Where we see this problem is with unpolished zirconia dental crowns. This ceramic can be very unfriendly if it's been adjusted and not polished.


How to fix it: All this condition needs is to smooth down the rough tooth cap with polishing burs. Once it's been polished down it should prevent any future wear problems with the opposing tooth.


Recurrent decay

Caps for teeth can become ill fitting if they become afflicted with tooth decay. The cavity will demolish the tooth structure under the crown and cause it to fit differently. It can potentially start getting loose or even fall off.


What it looks like:

  • Dark or brown spots near the crown margins.

  • Tooth structure feels soft or mushy.

  • Foul odor or taste.


How to fix it: The old crown will need to be removed so that the decay can be excavated. Once the tooth is caries free, your dentist can restore the damaged tooth structure with a core build up and then fabricate you a new crown.


Temperature sensitivity

The crown is supposed to protect the tooth underneath of it from harm and from external stimuli. If the tooth feels sensitivity to foods or drinks, it means that there is something faulty with the tooth cap. It's probably not fitting the way that it should or could be.


Causes:

  • Crown margins are too short or potentially open.

  • There could be a cavity

  • Dying tooth nerve.


How to fix it: The crown will most likely need to be redone but it could also require additional treatment such as caries excavation or nerve treatment.


Takeaway

A bad fitting crown is a complication and if it isn't yet, just give it some time because it will cause problems down the road. Depending on the cause for the poor fit, the fix will also differ.


You won't know what it is that you need until you see your dentist and have it assessed. The worse case scenario would result in a redo.

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About the author: Dr David Chen, DDS

Hello, I'm Dr Chen and I'm an actively practicing dentist in Long Island City, NY. I graduated from Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in 2016 but prior to going to dental school I was already working in the dental field. It's been more than a decade since I first got to know dentistry and let me tell you, time flies by quickly. Since then I've developed a fondness for writing, which is how this all got started!

Association Memberships:

Medical Disclaimer:

This blog is purely meant for information purposes and should not be used as medical advice. Each situation in your mouth is unique and complex. It is not possible to give advice nor diagnose any oral conditions based on text nor virtual consultations. The best thing to do is to go in person to see your dentist for an examination and consultation so that you can receive the best care possible.

The purpose of all of this oral health information is to encourage you to see your dentist and to inform you of what you may expect during your visit. Due to the unfortunate nature of dentistry, there isn't really any true home remedies that will get rid of dental problems. Roughly 99.99% of them require in-person intervention by a healthcare professional.

Hint: That is the reason why you can't eliminate seeing dentists in your life!

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