Help! I Think I Damaged My Dental Crown!

Help! I Think I Damaged My Dental Crown!

If you believe your dental crown may have cracked, don’t panic! Call your dentist for a repair or replacement.

Dental crowns are made of durable metal, porcelain, ceramic, or a combination of materials. And they can last a long, long time. In fact, one study found dental crowns had a nearly 90 percent survival rate at ten years. Yet, for their strength and durability, a dental crown can chip, loosen, or detach from the tooth it caps.

If you think your dental crown is damaged, your first instinct may be to panic, thinking it’s a dental emergency. While you should contact your dentist immediately, it’s important to stay calm and protect your tooth and gums from further damage or decay until you can visit your dentist.

What can cause your dental crown to crack?

Dental crowns can repair a badly decayed tooth, including one that has undergone root canal treatments or a severely fractured tooth. Most of your natural tooth is preserved with a crown, which is why dentists typically consider a crown a better option than an extraction. Crowns are also used to secure a dental bridge or serve as the final piece of a dental implant. 

Although rare, dental crowns can sometimes break. For instance, biting on a hard object, such as ice, can fracture the crown. A bad fall or blow to the mouth can damage the crown or knock it out. If decay has seeped into the natural tooth under the crown, the cavity can cause the crown to loosen. Constant teeth grinding or malocclusion can also put pressure on the crown and weaken its hold on your tooth. Whatever the reason, your first action is to contact your dentist if your dental crown cracks.

What to do if your crown is damaged

If the crown has broken into pieces or completely fallen off, gather it all up to bring to your dentist. Thoroughly clean the crown and its pieces and keep them safe. While you wait to see your dentist, follow these instructions to keep your gums and tooth safe and healthy:

Be careful around the tooth. Don’t chew on the affected tooth, and carefully brush and floss around it. Rinse with warm water and salt to clear away any bacteria.

Don’t eat sticky foods. Until the crown is fixed, avoid hard, sticky foods.

Replace it with dental adhesive. Dental adhesive or cement can replace or reattach the crown. But this is only a temporary measure until you visit your dentist.

Take OTC pain relievers. The exposed root may be sensitive and painful, with the crown gone or damaged. Over-the-counter pain medications can relieve the pain. Apply a cold compress if there is any swelling.

In the office, your dentist will examine the crown and determine if the tooth is chipped, cracked, has a hairline fracture, or is completely shattered. Depending on the severity of the damage, your dentist may fill in a chip with bonding material or reattach a fully intact crown with dental cement. For significant damage, you’ll likely need a new crown.

Taking care of your crown

The best way to prevent breakage is to take care of your crown. Think of the crown as your natural tooth and follow oral care best practices:

Brush and floss regularly. Bacteria and plaque attach to the crown as well as your natural teeth. Brushing with fluoride toothpaste removes those decay-causing substances so they don’t spread to your natural tooth or gums. Flossing gets to the hard-to-reach places between teeth.

Rinse with an antibacterial mouthwash. Take your oral care one step further by rinsing with antibacterial mouthwash.

Limit hard, crunchy foods. Although crowns are strong, they are not indestructible. To maintain your crown, avoid chewing on hard, crunchy foods.

Wear a mouthguard. If you grind your teeth or play contact sports, ask your dentist to fit you with a mouthguard.

Get a professional dental cleaning. Twice-yearly dental cleanings remove the damaging tartar. These visits also allow your dentist to check your teeth and gums for any signs of damage. When caught early, tooth decay and gum disease can be treated without a crown.

Visit the crown specialists

For over 30 years, Dr. Jeff Gray and Dr. Greg Hurtado at Espire Dental in La Mesa have given their patients in San Diego County beautiful smiles using crowns and other restorative techniques. Schedule your consultation online!

Proudly serving San Diego County and the surrounding area.

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La Mesa, CA
8555 Fletcher Pkwy. 
Suite 102 
La Mesa, CA 91942