What to Do if You Have a Cracked Dental Crown

There’s no mistaking the sinking feeling of running your tongue over your teeth and noticing something feels wrong. When that something is a cracked dental crown – or one that’s broken off or dislodged entirely – your first impulse is likely to phone your dentist.

The good news is that a cracked dental crown, however unsightly or uncomfortable, is seldom an emergency, unless a jagged edge irritates your tongue.  If there is underlying pulp that is still alive, its exposure to air may cause sensitivity to heat, cold and air.

But even if you have no pain, it’s a good idea to have your Fort Lauderdale dentist address the issue within one or two days. Conversely, if you find the pain is intense, interfering with your ability to eat, sleep or work, contacting an experienced emergency dentist is your best bet.

In the Meantime …

If your crown cracks, breaks or comes loose, you can take steps to mitigate the problem until you see your dentist:

  • Examine the area. Look at the broken crown and see if pieces appear to be missing or dislodged. If the crown is very loose, you may try to pull it off before you accidentally swallow it.
  • Once the crown is out look at the remaining tooth. Is it jagged and likely to hurt your tongue, or can you deal with the unusual feeling in your mouth for one or two days?
  • If you have minor pain, some over-the-counter pain reliever should help. If the area is bleeding or highly sensitive, contact your dentist as soon as possible.

Cracked Dental CrownWhat Causes a Cracked Dental Crown?

Like your natural teeth, your crown is strong, but not impenetrable to damage. You may have had the unfortunate accident of biting down on something too hard, like unpopped popcorn kernels or ice cubes. Grinding or clenching your teeth adds pressure to the crown that could result in a crack.

Sometimes simple age enters into the picture. With proper care, your dental cap should last five to 15 years. If your crown is getting “long in the tooth,” everyday wear may have initiated a small crack that grew over time until you finally noticed the gap.

Dental Crown Repair

temporary-crownRepairs to a cracked dental crown vary depending on the size and severity of the damage. In many cases, your dentist can simply smooth and reshape the remaining crown.

But if the crack, break or dislodgment is severe enough, your dentist may recommend creating an entirely new crown, using a dental post to hold the appliance on. Your prosthodontist’s office staff can help you with the insurance and payment options to make the dental procedure as affordable as possible.

When it’s the Tooth, Not the Crown

When your tooth is capped or crowned and something feels suddenly “off,” it’s natural to assume the problem is with the crown, especially if it’s in a back tooth you can’t see very well in the mirror. But sometimes the crack isn’t the crown, but the remaining tooth beneath it.

A cracked or broken tooth should be seen right away, before bacteria settles in or the crack widens. Decay or damage to the tooth may require removing it entirely and replacing it with a dental implant. Learn more about the dental implant procedure here.


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