When a Crown or Bridge Falls Out, Go Visit Your Dentist

When a Crown or Bridge Falls Out, Go Visit Your Dentist

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Crown Bridge Fell off Dentist
©Photo Fun/Shutterstock.com

A couple of days ago, a middle-aged woman who we’ll call Beth, brought a crown into the dental school in a plastic bag.  Her crown had fallen off of one of her molar teeth about six months ago.

When a Crown Falls OutUnfortunately, she didn’t think it was very urgent to get it back into her mouth.  Beth waited until she had another reason to come to the dentist and brought her crown along with her.  She was hoping we could glue it back on.  We couldn’t.

Beth’s tooth was so badly decayed that it had to be extracted.  When we told her the news, she was quite surprised, as it had only been six months since it fell off.

A couple of months ago, I wrote about what to do when a crown falls off of your tooth.  In that article, I said the following:

If your crown does fall off, remember that you need to get to your dentist as soon as possible. Don’t put it back on and then neglect going to visit your dentist. You could infect the tooth and in the worst case scenario you may need to have the tooth extracted a few years down the line.

This patient is a great example of why it is so important to see the dentist after your crown falls off.

Think About Why The Crown Fell Off

Crowns that are sitting on healthy tooth structure don’t generally just fall off.  The reason most crowns come off is because there was a leak that slowly allowed saliva and bacteria to enter in between the crown and the tooth.  Over time, the bacteria can cause decay to occur under the crown.  This decay weakens the bond between the crown and the tooth and eventually causes the crown to fall off.

What Happens In Your Mouth When You Leave the Crown Off

If you just leave the crown off and procrastinate a visit to the dentist for a check-up, you could be allowing the problem to get much worse.  Enamel (the outermost layer of the tooth) is pretty resistant to tooth decay.  Dentin, the softer layer under the enamel (click here to read about the different layers of our teeth), is not nearly as resistant to tooth decay.

The crown replaces the enamel and some dentin on the tooth.  When the crown falls off, it leaves behind a tooth that was shaved down to hold a crown on it.  When the tooth got shaved down, most of the enamel was drilled off, leaving cavity-susceptible dentin.

Not only is dentin more susceptible to decay, it takes a lot less acidity to erode it away (more particularly a problem if you regularly drink one of the many drinks that dissolve tooth structure!)

If the Crown Fell Off Because of a Cavity…

If the crown fell off due to tooth decay and you leave it off, then every time you eat you are feeding the bacteria growing on that tooth and further breaking it down.  In fact, those bacteria will continue to multiply, and before you know it, they will end up eating away what was left of that tooth, making an extraction necessary.  For a closer look at how these bacteria eat away your teeth, read What Every Human Needs to Know About Plaque.

Conclusion

Beth didn’t know that it was important to come to the dentist when her crown fell off.  But now, you do.

If you want to keep your teeth healthy, it is important to make an appointment with your dentist if your crown falls off – right away.

Do you have any questions about crowns or bridges?  Please leave them below in the comments section and I’ll get back to you.  Thanks for reading!

16 COMMENTS

  1. What are the risk of leaving the crown off as I know that the tooth can not be saved as I am awaiting/due to have oral surgery to remove the actual tooth and roots (which are curved) in approx. 3 months time. Will I get reoccuring abcesses?

    • Hi Amanda – Since you know you’re going to get the tooth out pretty soon, it’s hard to find an incentive to put the crown back on. One thing to consider is that maybe the crown fell off because the tooth got a cavity underneath the crown. If that were the case, bacteria could get down into the pulp (or root canal if the tooth has had root canal treatment) and cause an abscess.

      Not having the crown in will also affect how your teeth come together.

      If I were you, I would go to my dentist to see why the crown came off in the first place. They can also take a look at the root with an x-ray to see if there is an infection. If they find one, leaving the infection in for a few more months would probably not be the best idea. I hope that helps, Amanda! Thanks for your question and let me know if you want me to clarify anything.

  2. I have a broken crown molar. Only a quarter of my original tooth remains. Can it be glued back at least temporarily until I get an implant – I have trained myself not to eat on that side of my mouth. Will it have to be extracted?
    Thanks for your advice
    Marie

    • Hi Marie – Your dentist may be able to glue it back in temporarily to hold you over until you get an implant. That all depends on how much solid tooth structure remains. I can’t tell you if it can be saved or if it needs to be extracted – your best bet would be to have a dentist look at it and take an x-ray to determine the health of the tooth.

      I hope that helps, Marie – Let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks for your comment!

  3. My crown has not fallen off but it does feel funny like maybe there is something wrong with the bridge can my dentist fix it becauxe i can’t afford to replace it. I am making an appointment on Monday I think it may need tightened.is that possible?

  4. I liked your articles. I am afraid I have a worse problem, however. Several of my crowns have fallen out over the last 3 years, and I can’t afford to go to a dentist. I am to the point that I would just as soon blow my brains out as to take another breath, the pain is so bad. What’s worse, I know I can’t do that either. I have dogs who depend on me. So, I’m stuck. I live in northwest Alabama and I don’t think there are any affordable dentists around here. Anyway, I was wondering…what are my long term effects gonna be? It’s going to be a long while before I can afford to have these stubs removed from my mouth, along with the rest of my teeth. I’d rather eat soup the rest of my life than live with this excruciating pain. It’s just about got to me. I have Medicare, but it doesn’t cover dental.

  5. I recently had a crown come loose and found that the tooth is definitely decayed and will have to be extracted. I am torn between having a bridge or tooth implant. The surrounding teeth are also crowns so I would be losing these fairly new crowns too by having a bridge. I am very concerned about bone loss and as I am middle aged, also concerned about the surgery for the implant if I go with that choice.

  6. Hi. I have a bridge that fell off , the front tooth looks ok but the Back tooth at the rear was where my Bridge felt loose before it fell off and when it came off I noticed a liitle bit of Color change. 4 months later it looks worse in color. i was told by the dentist office that put the bridge on 10 years ago that DENTIST was no longer there. So i did not have money or insurance, so i had to wait, i seen a dentist today thru MS Donated Dental for FREE and he re cemented the bridge back on and said there was nothing wrong with the back tooth. I had a bad Ear ache so bad it felt like there was Water floating in my ears, and that side of my face was hurting and I felt fever so I called MD for some CIPRO. Well now this DENTIST today did not REMOVER any of the Discoloration and said it was only STAINED NOT DECAYED. Why now when I get home is this TOOTH HURTING when I bite down????? I know this TOOTH has a Major problem I can feel it. I took the CIRPO for 2 weeks straight and 2 rounds of it so no infection woudl have shown up but that tooth looks black and brownish…………..IS THIS NOT DECAY?????? i don’t get it , I told them I had pain in that tooth. But they still Glued it back on anyway without romoving the decay…….I am afraid of what is comin NEXT with this tooth, I cannot even chew soft GUM without feeling the hurt.

  7. Hi,

    my crown just fell off and I have no tooth left. 🙁
    I just have an empty socket.

    Will the dentist be able to put my crown back?
    I plan on seeing him tomorrow morning.

    Thank you,

    Sparks

    • Hi Sparks – The dentist can usually always put your crown back on. The real question is: How long will it last?

      If there’s not any tooth structure above the gumline, then it’s really not a very good prognosis, but some crowns seem to hold on better than others. Ideally, you want at least 2mm of solid tooth structure all the way around for the crown to hold on to.

  8. My crown is over a root canal
    It was loose and the dentist pulled it off to have a look
    He said it was broken and nothing underneath but he’d try to cement it on but no guarantee. Well it came loose that night but us still in place
    I am not chewing on that side
    What can be done now?

  9. Recently whilst eating some cheese on toast I felt a crack on my porcelain Crown. A minute later half the Crown fell out followed by the other half still attached to the tooth.
    Most of the peg has disappeared and all that is left is a small part of the tooth/cement that was underneath. Now I know that there will probably not be enough too left to replace the Crown (Which I have pieced together perfectly but has a crack down it.) and as it’s a top left molar tooth will probably be given the option of either a Bridge or an Implant, neither of which at £700/£2500 to £300 I can afford as I’m only working two Nights per week.
    So what OPTIONS do I have otherwise? I don’t drink acidic drinks so that’s not an issue and I can always chew on the other side of my mouth. I have known people to have gaps in there teeth to have no problems for many years but I was thinking of perhaps using some dental cement to help ‘Build’ the tooth up. Although only temporary is this a good idea?

  10. I forgot to mention that I paid £550 for this Crown just over nine months ago and the Dentist has probably cost me £700 alone in the last twelve months. Having more work done other then my Dentist making a new Crown and re-fitting (Free of charge I might add) isn’t really an option. These things should really come with a year’s WARRANTY…

  11. I think the enamel on one of my bridges chipped off tonight I don’t know how it happened? I am going to call my dentist tomorrow morning. What do you think can be done?

    • The same thing happened to me tonight and I am going to call my dentist in the morning also! Please post how your visit comes out and what your dentist did to repair it. Thanks!

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