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Are Metal Restorations Irritating Your Gums?

Children with a mouthful of metal dental crowns

As we’ve talked about before, metal restorations aren’t like your natural tooth material. Metal restorations like fillings and dental crowns can cause many common symptoms. A less common symptom is gum irritation. Sometimes, though, we figure out that your metal restorations are actually responsible for your gum irritation. Replacing old restorations can not only make your smile beautiful: it can eliminate metal-related gum irritation. 

Common Causes of Gum Irritation

If you have red, irritated gums around your dental crowns, we will start by looking for common causes.

Most cases of gum irritation are related to gum disease. In gum disease, oral bacteria infect your gums around your teeth. You’ll notice that your gums can become red, inflamed, and sensitive. Left untreated, gum disease can make your gums bleed and can potentially cause gum recession.

The tooth itself could also be infected. In this case, bacteria from the teeth could be moving outward, either through the root of the tooth or a hole in the surface of the tooth. It’s common for old metal crowns and fillings to develop decay around them that could lead to infection of the tooth.

Another problem could be related to debris trapped around the crown itself. Food debris and plaque that accumulate around the edges of the crown can irritate your gums. This is often caused by poorly fitted crowns that create areas that are hard to clean.

But once we’ve eliminated all these potential causes, we will look to determine if you have a metal allergy.

Metal Allergies Can Irritate Gums

Metal allergies are uncommon, but they’re not rare. And allergies to some metals are very common.

When you’re allergic to a metal, and it touches your skin, you get what is known as contact dermatitits. This is when your skin gets red and irritated. It can be quite painful and unattractive. Most of us know this phenomenon from our experience with cheap jewelry made of unknown alloys.

But you can get a similar experience with metal restorations in your mouth. Your gums, like your skin, can become red and irritated. You can even end up with receding gums.

There are many metals that people commonly have allergic responses to that are also used in dental restorations. Nickel is the most common metal allergy. It’s less common in dental restorations, but some metal crowns and porcelain fused to metal (PFM) crowns can contain nickel.

The second most common metal allergy surprises most people: gold. Everyone assumes that true gold is less likely to cause metal allergies, but that’s not the case. Even a gold crown can cause skin and gum irritation.

Cobalt is the third metal most likely to cause skin irritation. It’s also unfortunately common in dental restorations, including metal amalgam fillings, crowns, and bridges.

We Can Replace Metal Restorations

If you have painful, irritated, or receding gums that you don’t think are due to common causes, it may be related to your metal restorations. Let us evaluate whether removing them could help. Please call (843) 706-2999 today for an appointment with a Hilton Head cosmetic dentist at Beyond Exceptional Dentistry.