Sometimes it just can’t be prevented-- no matter how well you care for your teeth--  and you lose a crown. It is especially trying when this happens either at night or on the weekends-- when most dentist offices are closed. Time is of the essence to get your crown safely back on your tooth-- do you know what to do in this type of situation? We’ve put together this article of what you should do-- if you ever find yourself in this unlucky position. We’re going to discuss:

  • Reasons your crown may have fallen out
  • What you can do to help preserve your tooth
  • What your dentist will do

dentist exam
Crowns can fall out for a variety of reasons.

Why did your crown fall out?

Although no one likes to think about it-- if you have crowns-- there’s a chance that one day they could fall out. When your dentist put the crowns on-- depending on what they’re made out of-- they are heavily bound and cemented to the tooth underneath. Certain types of crowns-- such as gold ones-- bind easily to the tooth and create a very strong bond. However, nothing is 100% guaranteed, so even these tightly bound crowns run the risk of falling out.

Crowns are only as good as the teeth they are capping-- if your teeth have undergone a significant amount of decay or damage-- this might be the reason for the crown coming apart. Crowns also tend to fall out due to recent trauma to the mouth or even because of tooth grinding at night. Grinding can really reduce the strength of the cap on the tooth-- the movement disrupts the cemented cap and can cause it to become loose. If you haven’t experienced any of these situations, your lost crown could possibly just be the result of the cement holding the crown on spilling out over the years. If you’ve had your crown for a long time, this is most likely the reason.

toothbrush and toothpaste
If your crown falls out, make sure to keep the tooth and surrounding area clean.

What can you do about it?

Although this situation is usually not an emergency, there are certain steps you want to follow to make sure your exposed tooth is taken care of. If left unattended, a missing crown will expose the tooth to food debris and bacteria-- which can contribute to further pain and tooth decay.

  • Remove the crown. Be sure to get the crown out of your mouth as soon as you notice that it’s broken-- you wouldn’t want to risk swallowing it accidentally. Keep it in a safe place so you can bring it to the dentist later for their assessment.
  • Call your dentist. You’ll want to make an appointment as soon as possible-- if you dentist has emergency hours, this might be a good time to utilize them. If not, try to get an appointment as soon as you can. Eating with a missing crown is not a great idea, and you’ll want to limit this.
  • Use a temporary material for a crown. If you can get the crown to stay on the tooth temporarily, that’s a good fix. You’ll just need to pick up some dental cement which is available at most drug stores. If not, dental wax is available over the counter as well and would suffice as a temporary fix.
  • Keep your mouth clean. Even if you have an exposed tooth, you want to do your best to keep it and the area around it clean. It’s a good idea to continue to brush regularly as well as do some salt water gargling after meals to help clear out any food debris.
  • Eliminate pain. Losing a filling can be painful since the tooth and the nerves around it are exposed and may be inflamed. Take over the counter pain medication as directed until you can see your dentist.
  • Avoid certain foods/drinks. You don’t want to make your tooth any more painful that it is-- so it’s wise to avoid hot and spicy foods as well as hard to chew foods. You will also want to avoid especially sweet food and drinks as well.
dentist at work
Your dentist will need to re-evaluate the state of your tooth after the crown falls off.

What will your dentist do?

As discussed earlier, your crown may have fallen off due to increased decay in the tooth and surrounding area. This means that your dentist will again have to evaluate the state of your tooth-- if the tooth has decayed more, another crown will need to be made. Depending on how much time lapsed between when you lost your filling and saw the dentist-- there could be additional decay that will need to be removed. Your dentist will extract any new decay and make another custom crown for the tooth.

Losing a crown can be a startling experience, and one that most people don’t experience often. But if you should happen to crack or break one of your crowns-- now you know the steps you should take immediately afterward. If you have any additional questions or would like to discuss crowns with Dr. Wakim, contact us today!