What to Do If You Have a Chipped or Broken Crown

If you have a dental crown, you should know what to do in case it becomes chipped or broken. Crowns are very strong, and often last for a lifetime. But an accident can happen at any time, and a chipped or broken crown can sometimes be a dental emergency.

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How Can a Crown Break?

Because dental crowns are very strong, they typically won’t break on their own, although normal wear and tear over the course of several years can wear them down. A broken crown is often the result of an injury, such as falling or getting hit in the face with a ball. Grinding your teeth or biting down on something hard can also chip or break a crown.

What Are Crowns Made Of?

CEREC dental treatmentCrowns are typically made of porcelain. In some cases, they may be made of porcelain fused to metal or gold, or may be made entirely of gold.

Newer crowns are made from state-of-the-art materials to make them even stronger, such as porcelain fused with zirconia, full contour zirconia, lithium disilicate, or hybrid zirconia composite. Porcelain crowns are designed to look and function just like regular teeth and therefore should last for a long time barring any injuries, accidents, or more commonly, recurrent tooth decay.

What Should You Do If You Have a Broken Crown?

If you’ve broken a crown, you will likely know right away. Sometimes, a break or a chip can be minor and won’t cause any discomfort. Even if it isn’t causing pain, you should call your dentist’s office immediately. Let them know how the accident happened and how your tooth feels. They will help you determine if immediate action is required and how you should proceed.

If your dentist’s office is closed and you’re in pain, call an emergency dentist.

What Happens If a Crown Breaks?

The severity of the break or chip will determine what needs to happen next. A crown that is badly broken or missing could cause pain if the tooth underneath has a living pulp. Broken crowns in the back of the mouth can cause discomfort, especially when eating. You may also experience some sensitivity to hot and cold foods. A crown that is chipped or broken may be jagged and cause irritation to the tongue or surrounding tissue. If you notice your broken tooth is starting to cut your tongue when speaking, you need immediate attention since the pain will continue to worsen causing a major ulceration.

If possible, examine the affected area. If you can’t see the tooth, ask someone else to examine it and take pictures. See if you can determine if pieces of the crown are missing or dislodged. If it’s loose, you may be able to pull it off to prevent swallowing it.

If you are bleeding from a mouth injury, rinse your mouth with warm water and use gauze to apply pressure to the area.

If you are unable to see a dentist the same day, you can use dental cement or dental temporary material, which is available at most drugstores, to protect the affected tooth until your appointment. Dental wax or chewing gum can also work to protect your tongue from a sharp or broken crown.

Is a Broken Crown a Dental Emergency?

Sarasota Dental Emergencies

A broken crown may be a dental emergency if it is causing severe pain or irritation. In many cases, you may need to wait a day or two for an appointment to repair the tooth. Your dentist’s office will be able to tell you if you need to be seen right away depending on the state of the tooth.

Can You Repair a Broken Crown?

Depending on how much of the crown is damaged, it may be possible to repair it. If all or part of it has come off, save the crown to take to your dentist’s office. Your dentist will be able to determine if a repair is feasible.

If your crown has a small chip, some dentists may be able to repair it with resin. In cases of a severe chip or crack, you may need a new crown. Resin repairs are usually a temporary and crown replacement is usually the proper solution. Another alternative for small cracks or chipped crowns can be to file the crown, smooth it and polish it. This may be a temporary or permanent alternative depending on how it looks and feels.

In some cases, if it isn’t possible to repair or replace the crown, your dentist may recommend other options, such as extraction of the tooth and a dental implant.

How Much Does It Cost to Fix a Broken Crown?

The cost to fix a broken crown will depend on the severity of the damage and whether the crown can be repaired. Your dentist will likely need to examine the tooth in order to provide you with an accurate estimate. Cost is generally dependent on the experience of the dentist, quality of the materials, guarantee, and reputation of the dental provider.

How Do You Take Care of Crowns So They Last a Long Time?

Accidents such as getting hit in the face aren’t always avoidable, but to protect your crown, avoid biting down on anything hard or using your teeth for purposes other than eating, such as opening bottle tops. If you grind your teeth at night, ask your dentist about wearing a mouth guard while you sleep to protect your crown and the rest of your teeth.

Take care of your crown the same way you take care of the rest of your teeth: practice good oral hygiene by brushing at least twice a day, and floss regularly to remove bacteria.

At Sarasota Dentistry, we use dental crowns made from state-of-the-art materials to provide our clients with the highest degree of strength and durability possible. In addition to lab fabricated crowns, Sarasota Dentistry also offers same-day CEREC crowns from their in-office dental lab. Same-day CEREC crowns are wonderful for those patients that do not have time to wait weeks with a temporary crown. Contact our office to learn more or schedule an appointment.

Dr. Hank Michael DMD
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