The good news is that you’re not alone: there are a lot of people heading to their dentist with their dental crown carefully wrapped up in their pockets or purses, hoping for a quick and painless repair.
The bad news is that crowns aren’t as permanent as we’d like them to be. But with a little knowledge, and some care, you can keep your crowns on your teeth – or at least lessen the chances of your crown coming off.
So why do crowns fail? Here’s the most common causes:
1: You have tooth decay: crowned teeth can get cavities and decay. Typically, this occurs right where the crown meets what’s left of your natural tooth. If your crown comes loose, wrap it up (see below) and take it to your dentist. Chances are you’ll need to have a new crown made, but the old one may still be suitable for use if your existing tooth can be built up to support the old crown. Or your dentist may be able to fit it as a temporary crown while your new one is being fabricated.
2: You like chewy foods: If you regularly indulge in chewy, sticky treats like gummy candies your crown may come lose over time. In this case, your dentist should be able to reaffix the crown back onto your tooth.
3: Your crown’s cement washed out: Sometimes the cement holding the crown onto your teeth fails – this can be due to many reasons, including how the dental cement was prepared to a few drops of salvia getting into the cement during application. Whatever the cause for the failure, your dentist can almost certainly re-cement the crown back onto your tooth.
4: You broke it: Your dentist designed your crown to withstand normal use for the replaced tooth – the biting and chewing typically performed by that tooth. While crowns tend to be highly durable, it is possible to crack or shatter one if you do things such as chew on ice, bite down hard on solid objects such as pencils, or use your teeth as tools to pry things such as containers or nuts open. Chances are excellent that you’ll need a new crown.
5: You grind your teeth: 40-million Americans have bruxism – the formal term for teeth grinding and clenching – but only 10 percent of us grind so hard and so often that they fracture their fillings, crack their crowns, and/or destroy their dentures. If you’re one of that 10%, your dentist may recommend a “night bite plate” or a “bite splint.”
6: Your supporting tooth has issues: Sometimes a tooth that seems like it should be able to support a crown proves to be incapable of the task. If this happens to you, your dentist will discuss other options for repairing or replacing the tooth.
What to do if your crown comes off
Losing your crown isn’t a dental emergency, like a knocked-out tooth would be, but you should get to the dentist as soon as possible. Your now-exposed tooth may be super-sensitive to temperature, pressure or air. And if you delay treatment for longer than a week or so, you’ll be exposing your now-weakened natural tooth to damage since the crown is no longer there to protect it. If you can’t see your dentist right away, ask your dentist how to best protect your tooth. He or she may advise you to purchase temporary crown cement from the drugstore to keep your crown in place until your appointment.
If your crown falls off, clean it gently with your usual toothbrush and paste and let it dry. Then wrap it in a piece of paper towel or plastic wrap to keep it clean and protected, and put it in a safe place until you can see the dentist.
Dental crown costs and insurance coverage
Whether you’re getting a new crown or having one replaced, the costs will depend on materials selected, complexity of the restoration and where you’re getting the work done – a dentist in a large city may charge more than one in small town. Generally, you can expect to pay between $600 to $1500 (or more) per crown.
Dental insurance will probably cover part of the cost of a crown, depending on your policy, how long you have been a plan member, whether the crown is addressing a pre-existing condition (restoration of teeth that were missing prior to your purchasing a policy are rarely, if ever, covered by insurance) and whether you have reached your deductible or annual coverage cap for the year.
Dental savings plans, an alternative to traditional dental insurance, cover part of the cost of a crown, and have no restrictions on your ability to utilize the discounted rate provided by your plan. Savings plans can be activated within 72 hours of purchase, and you can use your plan to save on crowns and other dental treatment as soon as your plan is active.
To find out more about dental savings plans, visit DentalPlans.com