Can You Fix a Broken Crown?

16 March 2023

Having a broken crown can lead to more serious dental health issues such as, gum disease, cavities, and tooth decay. This is because when you have a damaged crown the tooth becomes susceptible to infection which can spread into your gum line. As a result, you may experience increased sensitivity. Whether you can fix a broken crown depends on the initial cause of the damage and the type of damage that has occurred. In this article we will cover the different types of this such as cracked crowns or chipped crowns as well as the different types of dental crown repair.

Ways a crown can become damaged

Usually, a damaged crown is not considered an emergency unless the damage leaves your crown with jagged edges that could potentially cut your tongue or cheek. We will cover how to fix this in a later section, but the nature of what needs to be done to repair the crown depends on the way the crown has been damaged. Typically, this includes:

  • A blow to the face
  • A fall
  • Grinding teeth
  • Biting down on something hard
  • Wear and tear for an implanted crown (crowns can last a decade, typically 10-15 years before needing to be replaced)

However, damage to the crown may impact other surrounding teeth which may change the nature of treatment required.

Types of damage to the crown

There are four major types of damage that can occur to the crown. These are cracked, hairline, chipped or broken crowns. A cracked crown will appear as a major vertical or horizontal crack. A hairline is a very thin crack which is potentially very easy to repair. A chipped crown has a chunk that has broken off, and a broken crown may be shattered or have broken one piece. Regardless a broken crown would be either falling off or is no longer able to function as a tooth.

So, what are my options?

If you have suffered major trauma to your face such as assault or a bad fall you should seek urgent medical attention by calling 999 or visiting your local Accident and Emergency department. However most damaged crowns do not require emergency attention and there are steps you can take from home before ringing your dentist.

Firstly, you can assess the damage. Run your finger along the crown to see if it has any jagged edges. If so, you will need to book an emergency dentist appointment to prevent this from cutting the soft lining of your cheek or tongue. If the crown is no longer securely attached, then you need to pull this out to prevent you from swallowing the crown in your sleep. However, if you have already swallowed the crown, then this should pass out of your body without any internal problems.

Once you have done this, rinse your mouth out with warm water to ensure any tiny fragments are removed. You may actually be able to try reattaching the crown to your gum line if it is still intact. If you do wish to try reattaching the crown, then you need to ensure that you have gently cleaned the crown inside and out. This needs to fit correctly to not cause damage to it or neighbouring teeth, so if this does not fit correctly do not try to reattach it. Once you have assessed the type of damage to your crown it’s time to ring your dentist to relay the condition of your crown.

Crown Dental Treatments

There are three dental treatments available for broken crowns. These include:

  • Recementing the crown (if it is still intact)
  • Replacing the broken crown or replacing with a dental onlay
  • Extracting the tooth and replacing with a dental implant

Replacing a crown is an option if the crown has been too badly damaged top repair. Your dentist will numb your gums to minimise any pain. Options here include either using an adhesive to weaken the gums surrounding the crown, or cutting a small incision into the tooth to provide leverage for removing this. If this is already an implanted crown, then your dentist will use the leverage for removing the seal of the cement or cut the crown into sections to be removed one piece at a time. They would then clean the tooth, or perform root canal treatment. For a replacement crown, a dentist will typically use a gummy impression or digital scanner to create an impression for the mould of your new crown. Temporary crowns are often given for the interim.

Dental onlays are premoulded in a lab using resin, porcelain or gold. Otherwise known as a partial crown, this mould is then bonded to your crown to restore it to a full tooth. It fits together with the upper grooves of the tooth and wraps over the cusps, and typically is only done when the tooth structure would not be able to support a filling.

Recementing is if you still have the crown and it has just fallen out. The crown would be cleaned, examined and re-attached. Old cement may need to be removed and the dentist would have to be satisfied that this sits well within your existing teeth’s structure.

Dental implants are for when the tooth may be too decayed or weakened to attach a new crown, in which case the entire tooth would need to be extracted and replaced with an implant. This requires anaesthesia and a small cut to the gums.

Why you shouldn’t ignore a damaged crown

When a crown is damaged the teeth and roots of the teeth are left exposed. This can lead to being susceptible to infections which can create greater sensitivity,  large cavities, abscesses, tooth loss and damage to the roots. The sooner you are able to get an appointment the less risk there is of lasting damage to your teeth or developing problems. If you require an emergency appointment in Pateley Bridge or the surrounding areas of Nidderdale you can contact us on 01423 712799. Alternatively, if you require out of hours care please ring 111 who will be able to advise of local dentists that provide out of hours services.