Loose Crown

erica medical reviewer
Medically Reviewed
by Dr. Erica Anand
Alyssa Hill
Written by
Alyssa Hill
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Evidence Based
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6 sources cited
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Dental Crowns & How Long They Should Last

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. 

teeth with different types of dental crown

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.

Is it Normal for a Crown to Wiggle?

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. 

Loose Crown Symptoms

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:

  • The crown is wobblier than your surrounding natural teeth (most apparent sign) 
  • Food is getting stuck where the gum line meets the dental crown
  • Sudden tooth sensitivity to hot or cold food
  • Tooth sensitivity to chewing pressure and air exposure
  • Pain or throbbing under the crown
  • A crack or fracture of the crown 

Why is My Crown Loose (Potential Causes)? 

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:

  • The crown is old — your crown may begin breaking down after about 10 years. This is normal and requires a quick trip to the dentist. During the appointment, your dentist will examine the crown and check to see if it is damaged. You may need the crown to simply be re-cemented. If the crown is damaged, you will likely need a new crown. 
  • Constant teeth clenching and grinding — bruxism, which refers to the habit of clenching and grinding the teeth while awake or sleeping, can lead to loose dental restorations. If you are a “heavy bruxer,” your crown may become loose quicker. 
  • Infection under the crown — many people undergo root canal treatment before dental crown placement. However, if you didn’t have a root canal before the crown was placed, your tooth will still have nerves in it. The crown can put pressure on these nerves, resulting in an infection. Infections under a crown can also be caused by old cavity fillings leaking bacteria into the nerves. 
  • Tooth decay under the crown — If a loose crown is accompanied by sensitivity and pain, a cavity may have formed underneath the crown. If someone has poor oral hygiene, food particles and oral bacteria can accumulate under the crown or on the root surface of the tooth. This results in tooth decay over time. It is necessary to visit your dentist as soon as possible to ensure the cavity doesn’t become larger. 
  • Poorly fitted crown — some crowns may be in good shape but were just placed incorrectly. Crowns can also be nudged loose while the dental cement is setting. If this is the cause, you’ll notice the loose crown within a few weeks after placement. 
  • Damaged crown — trauma, accidents, and facial injuries can result in loose dental restorations, including crowns. 
  • Consuming too many sticky foods — sticky foods like sugar-free gum, candy, beef jerky, chewy bread, and similar foods can cause loose crowns. Refrain from eating these foods in excess if you have a dental crown. 

Can a Loose Crown Be Repaired? 

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. 

stainless steel crown

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.

Is a Loose Crown an Emergency?

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:

1. Apply Temporary Dental Cement

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:

  1. Clean the remaining cement stuck under your crown with a toothbrush 
  2. Dry your tooth and crown with gauze, and then place the temporary dental cement in the crown
  3. After the cement is placed, bite down on another piece of gauze for 5 minutes (this allows the adhesive to set)

2. Don’t Touch The Crown 

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. 

3. Don’t Eat Crunchy or Sticky Food

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.

4. Take OTC Pain Relievers 

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.

5. What to Do if Your Crown Falls Out

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.

Resources

“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.

D., Da Silva John, et al. Oxford American Handbook of Clinical Dentistry. Oxford University Press, 2008.

Emerging Trends in Oral Health Sciences and Dentistry. InTech, 2015, https://www.intechopen.com/books/emerging-trends-in-oral-health-sciences-and-dentistry

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/.

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