What to do When a Crown Falls Out
One of our patients arrived for a regularly scheduled appointment and happened to mention that he’d lost a crown a couple of days before.
“Did you bring it with you?” we asked.
“I sure did!” he replied. It’s right here!” He offered a broad smile and pointed to one of his teeth. He’d returned it to its rightful place with first aid liquid bandage material.
One of the things which both dentists and dental patients take for granted these days is the ease with which emergency dental care is possible. Unfortunately, our patient was out of the service area, and couldn’t call us, or he would have known what to do. So, let’s review the process.
When a crown falls out
Call your dentist. They will be happy to give you an emergency appointment.
Try not to swallow the crown. If it appears to be fully functional, for example, if it fell out as the result of flossing, you may be able to replace it. If it fell out because the underlying tooth has broken, it cannot be replaced even temporarily, in which case, try to keep in clean and not swallow any bits of the tooth.
If the crown looks basically intact, as though it fell out as the result of coming unglued, you may be able to try this procedure:
- Clean the exposed tooth area carefully with a sensitive toothpaste and very gentle treatment, because it may be tender and is prone to damage in its weakened state.
- Clean the crown inside and out, treating it gently as well. Remove any debris, old cement, etc. from the inside of the crown. Treat it with care and try not to damage it.
- Make sure that you know exactly how it fits in your mouth before attempting to reattach the crown to the tooth. Putting it in incorrectly could damage the tooth, the crown, or neighboring teeth.
- Use a tiny dab of toothpaste to create a light suction, or use temporary crown cement (available in drugstores). Temporary dental cement comes with specific instructions.
- Reattach the crown. Do not use superglue, New Skin, or any other product not specifically designed for this procedure--just a dab of toothpaste.
If the crown and the underlying tooth is undamaged, it may be possible for the dentist to cement it back into place without difficulty. Sometimes, over-enthusiastic flossing, grinding your teeth, or an injury can cause the crown to fall out. But if there is other damage to the crown, the underlying tooth or gum, or both, a more extensive dental procedure will be required.
If you have swallowed the crown, the dentist will need to make a replacement. The swallowed crown will probably pass uneventfully and not cause internal damage.
See your dentist immediately. When you call, tell them what happened and you’ll be given an emergency appointment.
Do not eat hard or chewy foods after the temporary replacement of a tooth. Avoid chewing on the affected side in any case.
It’s possible that the crown can’t be returned to its tooth, either because you can’t figure out how it fits, it’s lost or broken, or it just won’t reattach with the product you’re using. Don’t risk trying to make it work and perhaps swallowing or damaging it or your teeth in the process. Clean it gently and take it with you to your emergency dental appointment. Meanwhile, avoid further trauma to the exposed tooth, which is very prone to damage and bacteria. The possibility of infection is high, as well.