You’ve had a long week and want to relax with a movie and some snacks. You settle in on the couch with a bowl of chips. Suddenly you hear a crunch. It’s a lot louder than eating chips normally is. Then you feel searing pain in your mouth. You spit out your chips into your napkin, and you notice that a piece of your crown has come off! You feel the jagged edge of what is left behind in your mouth. What should do you in this situation? A dentist discusses what you need to do if you have a cracked dental crown.
What Are Dental Crowns?
Dental crowns are prosthetics that are placed over existing teeth or dental implants to replace the visible part of the tooth over the gum line. They are designed to look, feel, and act exactly like natural teeth. They are durable, stain-resistant, and built to last up to 15 years without needing to be replaced. Once implemented, they can only be removed by your dentist.
When Do I Need a Dental Crown?
Your dentist will let you know when a crown is necessary, but they are typically used to:
- Cover a tooth after root canal therapy
- Cover a discolored or misshapen tooth
- Protect a weak tooth from breaking
- Restore a fractured tooth
- Cover a dental implant
What Should I Do If My Crown Breaks?
Call your dentist first thing if your crown breaks. Tell them your crown is missing and they will usually try to fit you in on the same day. If your crown is damaged during a time when your dentist is not open, there are a few things you can do to minimize your discomfort and prevent further damage:
- Have a trusted friend or family member examine the area, or look in the mirror. Check if the crown is hanging loose or if there are pieces of the tooth missing. Pull the crown off completely so you don’t accidentally swallow it.
- Gently run your tongue over the tooth to check for sharp edges that could cut your tongue, lips, or soft tissue in your mouth. If the area is relatively smooth, you are in less of an emergency situation than if it’s sharp. However, you should still see your dentist as soon as possible.
- If you have mild discomfort, an over-the-counter painkiller should tide you over until you can see your dentist. If your pain is more extreme, you’ll want to schedule an emergency dental appointment.
Alerting your dentist to your situation as quickly as you can is crucial. Without a crown to hold it in place, the tooth underneath can shift position and become more easily irritated. Your dentist will examine your mouth and determine whether the crown can be repaired or replaced. Either way, contact your dentist first thing if you have a cracked dental crown.