Dental crowns are a common restorative option when the dentist is able to save a tooth root but not the natural crown that sits above it.
Crowns are vital to maintaining teeth that have decay, extensive fillings, and/or fractures, entirely covering the remaining tooth to protect, strengthen, and heal it. They’re also used to fix alignment or occlusion issues.
At the dental practice of Dr. William M. Schneider, we know crowns. Dr. Schneider has over 25 years’ experience delivering excellent dental crown treatment, as well as a wide range of other dental services, to his patients in Walnut Creek, California.
Because he believes an informed patient makes for the best patient, he’s put together this guide on dental crowns so you can understand their value and why you shouldn’t ignore a crown that’s cracked or fallen off completely.
Why get a dental crown?
Dr. Schneider may recommend a dental crown in a variety of situations, such as to:
- Protect a weak or decayed tooth from breaking apart
- Hold together parts of a cracked tooth
- Restore a tooth that’s already broken
- Restore a tooth that’s severely worn down
- Cover and support a tooth with a lot of filling material
- Hold a dental bridge in place
- Cover discolored or misshapen teeth
- Cover a dental implant
The crown can be made from a number of materials, including:
- Gold or alloy
- Stainless steel
- Resin composite
You want a material that blends with the rest of your teeth, so a metal crown probably wouldn’t be a good idea for a front tooth but might do well in the back. Dr. Schneider determines the best option based on tooth location and function, position of your gum tissue, and your budget.
What if a crown cracks or falls out?
A crown is meant to protect the tooth beneath it. If the crown cracks or falls out, it allows bacteria to infiltrate the remaining tooth structure, causing decay or even an infection.
At the very least, if the tooth hasn’t had a root canal, the nerve will be sensitive to hot and cold and may cause a great deal of pain. You should never ignore a problem.
Crown is chipped
Crowns made entirely of porcelain or porcelain fused to a metal can sometimes chip. If the chip is small, Dr. Schneider can usually use a composite resin to simply repair the crown while it’s in your mouth. If the chipping is extensive, he may need to replace the entire crown.
Crown is loose
Crowns are cemented in place, but the cement occasionally washes out, loosening the crown. This permits bacteria to leak in and cause decay in the remaining tooth structure.
If your crown feels loose, contact Dr. Schneider to find out how he wants to handle it. You probably have to come in and have it re-cemented.
Crown falls off completely
It’s not unheard of for a crown to fall off completely — the most common reasons are decay in the underlying tooth and loosening of the cement.
If you have a crown come off, clean both it and the front of the tooth beneath. Replace the crown temporarily using a dental adhesive or temporary tooth cement — you can find them in any pharmacy.
Then contact our office. The staff gives you specific instructions on how to care for the tooth and crown until you can be seen. Dr. Schneider may be able to re-cement the crown after cleaning out any decay, or he may have a new crown manufactured.
If one of your crowns cracks or falls out, don’t ignore it — you need to see Dr. Schneider for repair before any more damage is done. Give the office a call at 925-935-2700, or schedule your appointment online today.