Breaking or losing a dental crown may or may not be a dental emergency, but it’s always a sign that you need to seek dental attention soon. Dental crowns perform a very useful function in protecting your teeth. A dental crown may be put in place if you have extensive tooth damage, tooth decay, or were treated for a root canal.
Dr. Thomas D. Sokoly of Sokoly Dental explains more about why you shouldn’t ignore a cracked or missing crown.
The function of a crown
A crown is a porcelain cap that fits over your natural tooth. It’s cemented in place, so it’s intended to last for a long time. But sometimes, the porcelain can crack, or the cap can even completely come off.
Crowns are put in place to protect the natural tooth underneath, which is usually damaged in some way. Some of the reasons you may have a crown include the following:
- Protect a weak or cracked tooth
- Support a tooth that’s had a deep filling without much natural tooth remaining
- Hold a dental bridge in place
- Cover a dental implant
- Cover misshapen or severely discolored teeth
- Cover a tooth after a root canal
However, it should also be noted that crowns are not permanent. The average lifespan of a crown is about 10 years, although many factors can affect how long your crown lasts. The most common factor is the material it’s made of; gold crowns last the longest, while crowns made of more common materials (such as porcelain fused to metal or lithium disilicate) last 5-15 years.
The consequences of a cracked or missing crown
The biggest consequence of having a cracked or missing crown is that the tooth underneath is not adequately protected. This can increase the risk of breaking a weak tooth or introducing bacteria to the natural tooth.
If your crown was placed because of tooth decay, for example, leaving it unprotected means that you risk experiencing further decay. In addition, bacteria can get inside the tooth, which may cause not only tooth decay but also an abscess or infection, which can be very serious.
You may also feel more tooth sensitivity, especially to hot and cold temperatures, when you have a cracked or missing crown, because the tooth’s roots are more exposed.
In addition, if your crown is supporting a bridge, the bridge may feel loose.
What to do if your crown is cracked or missing
If you feel like your crown is coming loose but has not yet completely come off, try to salvage it. Remove it from your mouth and bring it into the office, rather than risk swallowing it. We may be able to reattach it.
If your crown is broken or lost, make an appointment with Dr. Sokoly as soon as possible. We’ll examine the tooth and determine if any further damage has been done as a result of the missing crown. Then, Dr. Sokoly will make preparations for a new crown to be placed.
Dental crowns serve a very important purpose in protecting your tooth underneath. For that reason, it’s essential you notify us immediately if your crown is cracked or missing. Call Sokoly Dental at 202-280-2428, or request an appointment online.