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In dentistry, crowns are caps that fit over damaged or decaying teeth to restore their natural shape, look, and function. Dental crowns can be tooth-colored, silver, metal, or gold.
Porcelain-fused-to-metal is the most common restorative material for dental crowns. These crowns are stronger than regular porcelain because a metal structure supports them. They are also tooth-colored, durable, and blend in with your surrounding natural teeth.
Gold and metal crowns are the strongest dental crowns. Metal crowns are also a more conservative option because they require the least amount of tooth removal before placement. Porcelain crowns require more tooth structure removal. Although strong, metal and gold crowns are not tooth-colored, making them a less aesthetically pleasing option.
A dental crown is the best way to restore a heavily decayed or damaged tooth without replacing it entirely. Crowns can last between 5 and 15 years (or up to 30 years with excellent dental care). To ensure your crown stays in place, it is essential to practice optimal oral care at home and get professional teeth cleanings every six months.
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Permanent dental crowns should not wiggle because they are firmly bonded to your teeth. Healthy adult teeth move slightly if you pull on them, but they will not feel loose. Crowns should feel the same way.
A crown can last for many years with proper care. However, sometimes crowns wear out sooner than expected. Common signs that your loose crown requires a tune-up include:
If your crown can move around on top of your natural tooth, make an appointment with your dentist. The crown may not fit properly, or you could have a cavity forming under the crown. Reasons why your crown may be loose include:
Most loose dental crowns can be repaired by your dentist relatively quickly. Before the repair, your dentist will examine the underlying tooth to make sure it isn’t severely damaged. If failed dental cement caused the loose crown, they will simply re-cement the crown onto your tooth.
If there is a cavity under the crown, your dentist will remove the cavity first. Then they will replace the crown on top of your tooth. This is the only way for the tooth to heal.
Waiting too long to restore a loose crown can result in the crown falling out. If this occurs, you’ll need to pay for a new one. If the dental crown is damaged past repair from an injury or trauma, you’ll also need a new crown.
A loose crown can be a dental emergency if it is about to fall out, causes extreme pain, or if you are experiencing severe tooth sensitivity. If the crown is slightly loose, you can probably set up a regular appointment with your dentist. A loose crown should never go untreated, so make sure you call your dentist as soon as possible.
There are some precautions you can take before your appointment to ensure the crown doesn’t fall out:
If your crown is very loose, you can apply an over-the-counter dental cement before your appointment. Keep in mind that this is only a temporary solution. You should set up an appointment with your dentist (or an emergency dentist) after your crown becomes loose. To apply the cement, follow these steps:
If your loose crown has not fallen out, refrain from touching it. Wiggling the crown can damage the abutment under the crown, leading to further damage.
Sticky foods like gum, candy, beef jerky, chewy bread, and similar foods can cause loose crowns. Crunchy foods like raw vegetables, chips, apples, and crackers should also be avoided. If your crown is already loose, do not eat these foods until it has been recemented or replaced. Also, try to chew all food on the opposite side of the crown.
If your crown is causing pain, you can take over-the-counter pain medications to relieve any discomfort. Ibuprofen and acetaminophen are two common options. Do not take more than the recommended daily dose for your age group. You can also apply a numbing agent to the affected area. Orajel™ Severe Toothache & Gum Relief Plus Triple Medicated Gel is the most commonly used ointment for oral pain.
If your crown falls out before your appointment, make sure you keep it (unless it is broken). Your dentist can likely recement the existing crown.
“Dental Caries (Tooth Decay) in Children Age 2 to 11.” National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.nidcr.nih.gov/research/data-statistics/dental-caries/children.
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Emerging Trends in Oral Health Sciences and Dentistry. InTech, 2015.
Hollins, Carole. Basic Guide to Dental Procedures. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2015.
Pham, D. Young. “Signs That Your Dental Crown Needs to Be Replaced.” Dentist Chula Vista, 2 Aug. 2019, www.centerforbeautifulsmiles.com/blog/signs-that-your-dental-crown-needs-to-be-replaced/.
Sharma, Ashu, et al. “Removal of Failed Crown and Bridge.” Journal of Clinical and Experimental Dentistry, Medicina Oral S.L., 1 July 2012, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3917642/.