What Happens When a Dental Crown Breaks

July 19, 2018 by Salt Lake Dental

Dental crowns are a crucial component of many dental restoration processes, offering both functional and aesthetic benefits. They are typically used to protect, cover, and restore the shape of your teeth when fillings don’t solve the problem. However, like any dental appliance, they aren’t immune to damage. Understanding what happens when a dental crown breaks is essential, as is knowing what to do if a dental crown breaks to mitigate any further complications to your dental health.

Understanding Dental Crowns

Before delving into the consequences of a broken crown, let’s clarify what a dental crown is. A dental crown is a tooth-shaped “cap” that is placed over a tooth to cover the tooth to restore its shape, size, strength, and improve its appearance. Crowns can be made from various materials, including ceramics, porcelain, resin, or metal, and each type offers different benefits and drawbacks.

The Immediate Consequences of a Broken Crown

When a dental crown breaks, several immediate issues can arise, impacting both your oral health and daily comfort:

  1. Pain and Sensitivity: The tooth that was covered by the crown can become sensitive to temperature changes and pressure because the protective outer layer is compromised.
  2. Risk of Further Damage: With the protective crown compromised, the underlying tooth is more susceptible to further damage, including cracks or decay.
  3. Aesthetic Impact: Especially if the damaged crown is on one of the front teeth, it can cause noticeable aesthetic issues, which might affect your confidence and willingness to smile.

What To Do If Dental Crown Breaks

If your dental crown breaks, taking immediate action can help prevent further damage and lead to a better outcome:

  1. Evaluate the Damage: First, determine the extent of the damage. Is the crown completely off, or is it just cracked? Can you locate any pieces that have come off?
  2. Protect the Tooth: If the crown has come off completely, keep it in a safe place and cover the exposed tooth with dental wax or sugar-free gum if you cannot immediately see a dentist. This temporary cover will protect the tooth from exposure to food particles and bacteria.
  3. Contact Your Dentist: Reach out to your dentist as soon as possible. Most dentists offer emergency appointments for such situations. Explain the issue clearly so they understand the urgency.
  4. Clean Your Mouth and the Crown: Keep your mouth clean by gently rinsing with salt water. If you have the pieces of the crown, rinse them with warm water (do not scrub them or use any cleaners).
  5. Avoid Certain Foods: Until you can get to the dentist, avoid chewing hard, sticky, or chewy foods, especially on the side of the broken crown. Stick to soft foods and try to minimize the use of the affected tooth.

Long-Term Considerations

After addressing the immediate issues, you should consider the long-term implications and prevention strategies:

  1. Repair or Replacement: Depending on the extent of the damage, your dentist will determine whether the crown can be repaired or if it needs to be replaced. A new impression of your tooth may be required if a replacement crown is necessary.
  2. Material Consideration: Discuss with your dentist whether the material of the crown was appropriate and consider a different material if the breakage was due to material failure.
  3. Oral Hygiene Practices: Enhancing your oral hygiene practices can extend the life of your new crown. Regular brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash can help maintain the crown and the underlying tooth health.
  4. Regular Dental Checkups: Frequent visits to the dentist for checkups can help detect any issues with your crowns before they become serious problems, ensuring that minor issues can be addressed promptly.


A broken dental crown is more than just a nuisance; it’s a dental emergency that can affect your oral health and quality of life. Knowing what to do when a dental crown breaks is crucial in preventing further damage and maintaining your oral health. Always consult with your dental professional for guidance and treatment to restore the functionality and appearance of your tooth. Remember, prompt and effective action can make a significant difference in the outcome of such dental emergencies.