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My new crown doesn’t feel right. What should I do?

I just got a new crown on a back tooth, but it feels odd when I bite down on it, like it doesn’t quite line up with the other teeth. 

I asked my dentist if he could trim it down so that it fits better, but he checked it and said I just need more time to get used to the sensation. It’s been two weeks at this point, and it’s still bothering me. 

Is it normal for a crown to feel “off” like this?

— Stefanie from Tulsa, OKA woman is frowing in pain and touching the side of her face with her hand because her dental crown doesn't feel right. A dentist experienced in full-mouth reconstruction can help her get relief.

Hi Stefanie,

First of all, it’s not normal for a crown to feel “off.” A crowned tooth should feel so normal that you forget the crown is even there. If your bite started to feel uncomfortable after you got the crown, then this suggests that your crown may need to be adjusted.

So why would your dentist tell you to ‘just get used to it?’

Well, designing a dental crown so that it fits perfectly in line with the opposing teeth is not a simple task. It requires a certain skill set and may even take multiple attempts to create a natural-feeling crown. Most dentists can design crowns that adequately restore individual teeth, but relatively few dentists are experts in creating crowns that help harmonize the entire bite.

“Occlusion” is the scientific term for the way your upper and lower teeth fit together when you bite down. If your dentist does not feel that they are an expert in occlusion science, then he might tell you to ‘just get used to it’ if he can’t find an obvious problem.

On the other hand, a dentist with advanced post-graduate training in restoring balanced occlusion could help you get a more comfortable bite. The Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies, for example, is a respected institution that teaches dentists how to improve the function and balance of the bite.

Does this mean that you should visit a new dentist? 

Not necessarily. If your bite just feels slightly “off” but you don’t experience any pain when you bite down on your new crown, then you may indeed get used to the sensation if you give it a few months. You can stay with your original dentist as long as you are confident he has your best interests at heart.

Keep in mind, however, that an unbalanced bite has the potential to cause complications down the road. Too much pressure on one tooth could cause bone loss around that tooth, or an unbalanced bite could even lead to TMJ pain. Adjusting your crown could help that tooth feel better and eliminate your risk of such complications, but it sounds like your current dentist doesn’t know what further adjustments can be made. 

If you are ready to seek more advanced help, then use this opportunity to search for a new dentist who has the qualifications and experience necessary to balance out your bite. A dentist who is skilled in full-mouth reconstruction and in adjusting occlusion can safely adjust your crown. 

You may also want to visit such a skilled professional the next time you need a new dental crown. Search for a dentist near you who has advanced training from a post-graduate dental institution and ask them for a second opinion.

This post has been published on behalf of Owasso dentist Dr. Heng Lim.