A dental crown sometimes called a “cap,” is a tooth-shaped cover that is placed over a badly damaged tooth. Fillings cover a portion of a tooth, protecting it from bacteria after the decayed portion of the tooth is removed. Crowns and fillings strengthen damaged teeth, restore bite alignment and improve the tooth’s appearance. But, over time a crown can become loose and even fall out, especially if you don’t take proper care of it.
Common ways people lose crowns and fillings
Crowns and fillings become loose for a number of reasons. A crown is placed over a damaged tooth, and if the tooth continues to decay there may not be enough left to hold the crown in place. You should continue to brush and floss at least twice a day to prevent tooth decay. Crowns can also become loose if the bonding cement weakens over time.
Eating a lot of chewy foods such as candy and gum can pull a crown or fitting loose, and habits such as teeth grinding at night or using your teeth as tools (to open bottles for example) can all lead to a crown or filling becoming loose and falling out.
Signs your crown or filling is loose
If your crown or filling is becoming loose, you may notice symptoms before it is lost. A loose filling may expose a tooth’s nerve, and so pressure applied to the tooth will give you an unpleasant sensation. You may also notice the bristles of your toothbrush catching on a loose crown or the crown shifting in your mouth. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should call your dentist right away.
If your crown or filling falls out
You don’t want to bite or swallow your crown or filling, so remove it from your mouth immediately. However, if you did swallow your crown or filling, it is not an emergency. Most pass harmlessly through your digestive system. Once you’ve removed the crown or filling, take the following actions:
- Don’t try to reattach it yourself. There are over-the-counter dental glues for re-attaching temporary crowns. However, you shouldn’t try to put a crown or filling back on yourself unless your dentist advises you to do so.
- Examine your tooth. You want to see if the entire crown or filling is out, or just part of it. You also want to see if the tooth is further damaged or cracked.
- Call your dentist. Explain to the dentist what happened when the crown or filling fell out and the state of your tooth. Follow the dentist’s advice.
Crowns and fillings protect the health of your teeth and improve their appearance. If you suspect yours has become loose, you should contact a Creating Smiles Dental team member before it is lost.