Dental Crowns are dental fixtures that go on top of dental implants or on top of the gums to replace missing teeth. They are vital to keeping the structure of your mouth healthy after losing a tooth or part of a tooth and help normalize your life and chewing habits. But, they are not foolproof. They are made in segments, and those segments can come undone from some unpredictable events. If you lose a crown you will notice pretty quickly. Once you do, you need to know what should happen next.
First of all: losing a dental crown is not always a dental emergency. It’s extremely inconvenient if it comes loose, comes off or disappears unpredictably. Swallowing crowns and fillings is one of the most common ways they can be “lost”, and by the time they can be recovered it’s too late. However, this is not true of all crowns. Some are structurally integral to the tooth or protect sensitive areas that can be easily compromised by any eating or motion.
If you feel significant, sharp pain from losing a crown, due to an exposed nerve or pulp, or significant bleeding you should treat it as an emergency. If it can’t be fully removed or put back in place manually you should seek a professional to assist you. Crowns can be choking hazards, and if becomes one you should not eat or drink until it’s fixed, which can constitute a sort of emergency.
Depending on the condition the crown was protecting, under ideal circumstances where you watch what you eat and brush carefully, you can wait a week or more to replace it. If the crown is covering a root canal or other major surgical site, it should be replaced immediately, as the more vulnerable and sensitive parts of the tooth and gum will be exposed for too long.
Crowns can come loose from all kinds of situations. Some might not be fixed properly and will come off and need further efforts to remain attached. Tooth decay may still be present which caused the crown to no longer fit on the tooth. Physical trauma, such as getting hit or falling into something, can knock a crown out and injure any other teeth in your mouth as well. If a crown is gone, and there is no immediate pain, schedule an appointment to fix it or replace it and eat as normal. You may have to adjust your eating habits, take care not to eat anything which might provoke sensitivity, and use the other side of your mouth to chew in the meanwhile.
Temporary crowns which are used to protect a tooth while a permanent crown is still being made can fall off much easier as they are only meant to last a certain amount of time. If these fall out ahead of schedule, you should be safe to just eat more carefully and avoid using the tooth. In any case, only treat it as an emergency if the pain or trauma to the area is unavoidable.