A dental crown is a restoration that covers a tooth above the gum line on all visible surfaces. Crowns are a time-tested solution to restore a broken or damaged tooth to its normal appearance and integrity. But what happens when the crown itself becomes damaged?
Modern materials and techniques allow dental crowns to be more durable, attractive and functional than ever before. Some last for up to 15 years with proper care and maintenance. However, crowns are not your natural teeth, and they will not last forever.
Everything has a shelf life and even high quality dental restorations are subject to damage. In fact, one of the most common dental emergency calls involves a cracked or damaged crown. If you consume crunchy foods often or grind your teeth, you’ll obviously be at greater risk for this cracked crown mishap.
When a crown chips, breaks or falls out, it is important to see your dentist. The comfort, health and appearance of your smile may be at stake. At Group Health Dental, we do our best to address your dental crown damage and other dental emergencies as quickly as possible.
In the meantime, here’s some immediate steps to follow when you are concerned about a cracked crown:
#1 Examine the area. Take a good look in the mirror to get a visual of the damage. Is the crown slightly cracked or is it broken or loose? If the crown is barely hanging on, you may want to consider removing it completely to avoid the risk of losing it (or swallowing it).
#2 Assess your pain: It is important to determine whether or not the damaged crown is causing pain or sensitivity on the affected tooth. Do extreme temperatures produce sharp pains within the tooth? Is it painful to touch or bite down on the cracked crown? Does the broken crown have jagged edges that may cut your tongue or cheek? Depending on your pain levels, you may be able to wait a few days to see the dentist or call for an emergency appointment.
#3 Call your dentist: Regardless of the severity of the damage or your level of pain, your dentist always needs to know about your cracked crown. The crown should be restored to its optimal strength and integrity. This may involve a full crown replacement or a minor repair. Neglecting to address a cracked crown at all will likely produce painful and more costly complications down the road. Remember the crown is a cap of protection for the weak tooth underneath. You need the crown for your smile to function at maximum strength.
Repairing a Damaged Crown
It may be possible to repair a chipped or cracked dental crown without replacing the entire crown. This depends on the amount and severity of the damage as well as the type of crown. If the damage is minor, most crowns can be fixed with composite resin, which is the same tooth-colored material used in dental bonding and fillings. In other cases, a damaged crown can simply be reshaped and smoothed. It is important to restore the crown in a way that does not compromise its fit, appearance and function. If necessary, your dentist may suggest a new crown.
Avoiding Crown Damage
Just like a natural tooth, your dental crown can crack, chip or break under certain pressures. While you may not be able to prevent an accident like a bad fall or blow to the face, there are a few habits you can avoid to protect your dental crown investment. For example, if you grind your teeth at night or play contact sports, consider getting a custom mouth guard to prevent tooth and crown damage. In addition, don’t try to open packages and bottle tops with your teeth. Your dental crown is not intended to be used for anything other than eating!
Call an Expert to Repair Your Dental Crown
We know that it is never convenient or ideal to deal with a damaged crown. However, dental accidents do happen. At Group Health Dental, we do our best to provide prompt and seamless crown repairs when you need it most.