broken dental crown

Dental crowns, commonly referred to as caps, are widely used in restorative dentistry to protect and enhance the appearance of damaged or decayed teeth. While dental crowns are designed to be durable and long-lasting, they are not immune to damage. A broken dental crown can be a distressing experience, leading to discomfort and functional issues. This article explores the causes, consequences, and solutions for broken dental crowns, providing valuable insights for those who may encounter this dental dilemma.


What is a Dental Crown?

A dental crown is a prosthetic restoration that encases the visible portion of a tooth. It is designed to restore the tooth’s shape, size, strength, and appearance. Crowns can be made from various materials, including metal, porcelain, ceramic, and composite resin. Each material offers unique benefits and drawbacks, influencing the crown’s longevity and performance.


Causes of Broken Dental Crowns

Despite their resilience, dental crowns can break or become damaged for several reasons. Understanding these causes can help prevent crown failure and ensure the longevity of your dental restoration.

  • Trauma and Accidents
  • Chewing Hard Foods
  • Poor Dental Habits
  • Decay Under the Crown
  • Aging and Wear


Trauma and Accidents

Physical trauma or accidents are common causes of broken dental crowns. Activities such as sports, falls, or car accidents can exert excessive force on the crown, leading to cracks or complete dislodgement. Wearing a mouthguard during sports and taking precautions to avoid falls can help mitigate this risk.

Chewing Hard Foods

Chewing on hard foods or objects, such as ice, hard candies, or nuts, can put undue stress on a dental crown. Over time, this stress can cause the crown to fracture or chip. It is advisable to avoid biting down on hard substances and use your back teeth for chewing tougher foods.

Poor Dental Habits

Certain habits, like teeth grinding (bruxism) or using teeth as tools to open packages, can significantly increase the risk of crown damage. Bruxism, in particular, exerts continuous pressure on the crown, leading to cracks and wear. Wearing a nightguard can protect your teeth and crowns from the effects of grinding.

Decay Under the Crown

While dental crowns are resistant to decay, the underlying tooth structure is still susceptible. If decay forms under the crown, it can weaken the bond between the crown and the tooth, causing the crown to become loose or break. Regular dental check-ups and proper oral hygiene are essential to prevent decay.

Aging and Wear

Over time, dental crowns can naturally wear down due to regular use. The lifespan of a crown varies depending on the material, with porcelain and ceramic crowns generally lasting between 10 to 15 years. As crowns age, they become more susceptible to damage and may require replacement.


Consequences of a Broken Dental Crown

A broken dental crown can lead to several immediate and long-term consequences that impact oral health, comfort, and aesthetics.

  • Discomfort and Sensitivity
  • Infection Risk
  • Compromised Functionality
  • Aesthetic Concerns
  • Potential for Further Damage


Discomfort and Sensitivity

A broken crown often exposes the underlying tooth structure, leading to increased sensitivity to temperature changes, pressure, and certain foods. This can cause discomfort or pain, making eating and drinking an unpleasant experience.

Infection Risk

When a crown breaks, bacteria can enter the exposed area and potentially reach the inner layers of the tooth. This can lead to infection, which, if left untreated, may result in more serious dental issues, such as abscesses or tooth loss.

Compromised Functionality

A damaged crown can affect your ability to chew and speak properly. Depending on the location of the crown, it may also impact your bite alignment, leading to further dental complications if not addressed promptly.

Aesthetic Concerns

For crowns placed on front teeth, a break can be particularly distressing due to the visible impact on your smile. A broken crown can diminish the overall appearance of your teeth, affecting your self-confidence and social interactions.

Potential for Further Damage

If a broken crown is not repaired or replaced in a timely manner, it can cause additional damage to the surrounding teeth and gums. The sharp edges of a broken crown can also cut or irritate the inside of your mouth, leading to further discomfort.


Solutions for Broken Dental Crowns

Addressing a broken dental crown promptly is crucial to maintaining oral health and restoring function and aesthetics. There are several solutions available, depending on the extent of the damage and the condition of the underlying tooth.

  • Temporary Solutions
  • Dental Visit and Examination
  • Crown Repair
  • Crown Replacement
  • Addressing Underlying Issues


Temporary Solutions

In the event of a broken crown, it is important to seek immediate dental attention. In the interim, there are temporary measures you can take to alleviate discomfort and protect the exposed tooth:

  • Avoid Chewing on the Affected Side
  • Use Dental Cement
  • Maintain Oral Hygiene


Avoid Chewing on the Affected Side

Minimize pressure on the broken crown by chewing on the opposite side of your mouth.

Use Dental Cement

Over-the-counter dental cement can be used to temporarily reattach a dislodged crown or cover sharp edges. This is a short-term solution until you can see your dentist.

Maintain Oral Hygiene

Continue brushing and flossing carefully around the broken crown to prevent infection and further damage.


Dental Visit and Examination

Upon visiting your dentist, they will conduct a thorough examination to assess the extent of the damage. This may involve taking X-rays to evaluate the underlying tooth and determine the best course of action.


Crown Repair

In some cases, a minor fracture or chip in the crown can be repaired without needing a full replacement. Your dentist may use bonding materials to fix small cracks or smooth rough edges. This solution is typically quicker and less expensive than replacing the entire crown.


Crown Replacement

If the damage is extensive or the crown cannot be repaired effectively, your dentist may recommend replacing the crown. The process of crown replacement involves:

  1. Removing the Damaged Crown
  2. Taking Impressions
  3. Fitting a Temporary Crown
  4. Placing the Permanent Crown


Removing the Damaged Crown

The broken crown is carefully removed, and any decay or damage to the underlying tooth is addressed.

Taking Impressions

Impressions of your teeth are taken to create a custom-fit crown that matches your natural teeth.

Fitting a Temporary Crown

A temporary crown may be placed to protect the tooth while the permanent crown is being fabricated.

Placing the Permanent Crown

Once the permanent crown is ready, it is securely bonded to the tooth, restoring function and aesthetics.


Addressing Underlying Issues

If the crown broke due to underlying issues such as decay or bruxism, it is important to address these problems to prevent future crown damage. This may involve treating decay, implementing preventive measures like nightguards, or adopting better oral hygiene practices.


Preventing Future Crown Damage

While it is not always possible to prevent dental crown damage, there are several steps you can take to minimize the risk and prolong the lifespan of your crowns:

  • Maintain Good Oral Hygiene
  • Regular Dental Check-ups
  • Avoid Hard Foods and Objects
  • Wear a Nightguard
  • Protect Your Teeth During Sports


Maintain Good Oral Hygiene

Brush and floss regularly to prevent decay and gum disease, which can compromise the integrity of your crowns.

Regular Dental Check-ups

Visit your dentist regularly for check-ups and cleanings. Early detection of potential issues can prevent crown damage.

Avoid Hard Foods and Objects

Be mindful of what you chew and avoid using your teeth as tools to open packages or bottles.

Wear a Nightguard

If you grind your teeth at night, wearing a nightguard can protect your crowns and natural teeth from excessive wear.

Protect Your Teeth During Sports

Use a mouthguard during contact sports to prevent trauma to your teeth and crowns.



A broken dental crown can be an inconvenient and painful experience, but with prompt attention and appropriate care, it is manageable. Understanding the causes of crown damage and taking preventive measures can significantly reduce the risk of future issues. If you experience a broken crown, seek professional dental care immediately to restore your oral health, comfort, and confidence. Regular dental check-ups, good oral hygiene, and mindful habits are key to maintaining the longevity of your dental crowns and overall oral well-being.

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