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Losing a Filling or Crown: Is That a Dental Emergency?

We’ve all been there: you bite down on a piece of hard candy, an ice cube, or even a handful of nuts and you hear that crunch or crack that tells you something has gone horribly wrong. You busted a filling or crown.

Whether the foods you consume are hard on your teeth, you suffer from bruxism that causes unconscious clenching and grinding, or you’re active in athletic pursuits that could lead to accident or injury, you may find yourself dealing with a lost filling or crown at some point? Is this a dental emergency? What should you do?

It’s Probably Not an Emergency

Losing a filling or crown can be a frightening experience. It can also leave you dealing with pain or discomfort when you try to chew or your tooth is exposed to hot or cold substances (food, beverage, or even air).

That said, you needn’t wake your dentist in the middle of the night. Fillings and crowns are meant to be permanent, but things happen, and it’s not uncommon for one to break under abuse or pop out due to wear and tear. While it’s likely not an emergency situation, however, you don’t want to delay making a dentist appointment when it comes to dealing with this snafu.

Fillings and crowns are in place to protect a tooth that has suffered previous damage (due to trauma or tooth decay, just for example). This damage and the treatments that follow (like drilling) can leave your tooth weakened and exposed to potential harm. Failing to have your filling or crown replaced in a timely manner could lead to further damage and decay, not to mention discomfort.

What to Do

When you lose a filling or crown, the first thing you should do is put it in a safe place. If it isn’t broken, it may be salvageable, and this could save you some time and money when you go in to have it fixed and replaced.

Next, you should call your dentist to set up an appointment to examine and repair the site. Your tooth will probably need to be cleaned at the very least before your filling or crown can be replaced, and if there are signs of decay, further procedures may be needed.

From there, you may be able to pop the original filling or crown back in place, or you may need to have a new one fashioned in order to account for changes in the tooth. When you lose a filling or crown, there’s no need to panic. Simply take extra care and call your dentist to schedule an appointment as soon as possible.