dentist checking if lost crown is need for emergency

Having a filling or crown fall out can certainly raise the alarm. Knowing the proper steps for immediate care and finding the next steps can ease your concerns and potentially save your tooth. This is especially alarming if you’re overseas or nowhere near your Woburn, dentist’s office. While it’s always recommended to visit your dentist immediately, there are a few steps you can take in the meantime.

This article will provide tips on what to do if a filling or crown falls out and the next steps for treatment.

Why Do Dental Fillings or Crowns Become Dislodged?


1. Wear and Tear

Wear and tear on dental fillings and crowns can be due to daily activities like chewing food and drinking hot tea or coffee. These actions apply significant pressure on dental restorations, causing their structural integrity to deteriorate over time. When a crown or filling is continually worn out, it loses its adherence to the tooth structure, thus its ability to provide the needed protection diminishes. Eventually, it reaches a point where the filling or crown becomes loose and may dislodge, causing discomfort or pain. Regular dental checkups can help prevent such a situation and maintain oral health.

2. Tooth Decay

A decayed tooth can cause dislodged fillings or crowns in a few ways.

  • Decay Underneath: If tooth decay develops underneath a filling or crown, it can eat away at the healthy parts of the tooth, resulting in a dislodged or loose crown or filling.

  • Weakening of Structure: Tooth decay can weaken the overall structure of the tooth. As the decay progresses, it can cause parts of the tooth to break off, which may include areas where the filling or crown is attached, causing them to fall out. 

  • Change in Tooth Shape: As tooth decay progresses, it can change the shape and size of the tooth. This can affect how well the filling or crown fits on the tooth. If the fit is not secure, the filling or crown may dislodge.

3. Poor Dental Cement

Dental cement plays a crucial role in keeping a crown attached to the tooth; it acts as a bonding agent that ensures the crown remains securely in place.

However, if the cement is not applied correctly during the crown placement, or is of poor quality, it may fail to form a sturdy and lasting bond. Furthermore, the cement can gradually wear down due to normal activities like eating or tooth brushing. This wear and tear can lead to the cement slowly losing grip, causing the crown to loosen. Over time, the loosened crown can become dislodged and ultimately fall out completely.

4. Physical Trauma

Physical trauma to the mouth caused by accidents, falls, or incidents during contact sports can exert sudden and substantial pressure on dental restorations, such as fillings and crowns. This unexpected force may surpass the restoratives’ ability to withhold, leading to immediate or delayed dislodgement. Even a hard bite on solid food may apply enough pressure to dislocate a filling or a crown. The risk is even higher if the tooth structure supporting these restoratives has already been weakened by decay or wear and tear.

Regular dental exams can help identify vulnerable areas and implement appropriate preventive measures.

5. Grinding/Clenching

Bruxism refers to habitual grinding or clenching of teeth, commonly an involuntary behavior, especially during sleep or times of stress. Bruxism generates excessive pressure on the teeth and can take a significant toll on dental restorations, particularly fillings and crowns. Over time, the strain exerted on these restorations from the constant grinding or clenching can weaken them, causing them to crack, wear down, or loosen from the teeth they are meant to protect.

Continual grinding or clenching could eventually lead to these fixtures dislodging completely. Addressing the underlying causes of bruxism is important to prevent such damage.

6. Incorrectly Fitted Fillings or Crowns

The successful installation of dental fillings and crowns largely depends on their correct fitting. If these restoratives are not appropriately shaped, sized, or seated onto the tooth during dental procedures, they may not firmly adhere to the tooth structure, creating a risk of early dislodgement.

Poorly fitted restorations may also cause discomfort, affect chewing efficiency, and potentially lead to complications like infection or further decay. That is why the placement of fillings or crowns must be performed by skilled, experienced, and qualified dental professionals to ensure optimal results and long-lasting dental health.

7. Eating Sticky or Hard Food

The nature of the food we consume can have potential impacts on dental restorations. Specifically, consuming hard or crunchy foods, like nuts or candy, can apply excessive force on fillings and crowns, potentially dislodging them. Similarly, sticky foods such as caramel or hard chewy candies pose a risk as they can adhere to the surface of the crowns or fillings, potentially yanking them out of place upon chewing or removal.

It’s always best to be mindful and careful of your eating habits if you have dental restorations to ensure their longevity and effectiveness.

8. Natural Changes in the Mouth

As we age, natural changes may occur in our mouths, such as shifting of teeth, gum recession, or a change in bite alignment. These changes can impact the fit and effectiveness of existing dental fillings and crowns. As these restoratives are designed based on the tooth’s initial positioning and condition during placement, any subsequent shifts or alterations in the oral environment can cause them to loosen or become ill-fitting. This could potentially lead to the dislodging of fillings or crowns.

Ensure regular dental check-ups to allow for early detection and adjustment of these restorations to ensure optimal oral health.

Is a Lost Filling an Emergency?

Most of the time, a lost filling is not considered a dental emergency. However, if you’re experiencing pain, sensitivity, or discomfort, it’s crucial to get it addressed promptly.

The primary function of a filling is to protect the tooth from further decay. When a filling falls out, the tooth becomes vulnerable to bacteria, which can lead to more serious dental issues if left untreated. So, while losing a filling might not be an immediate emergency, it’s important to contact your dentist and arrange for a replacement as soon as possible.

In the meantime, avoid eating hard or chewy foods that could cause further damage to the exposed tooth.

What Immediate Care Steps Should You Take for a Lost Filling or Crown?


Step 1: Locate the Filling or Crown

Locating a lost filling or crown promptly post-dislodgement is crucial. It helps prevent accidental swallowing or inhalation, which could lead to further complications like digestive or respiratory system blockages. The retrieved piece can also be valuable during your dental visit for possible reattachment or as a reference for fabricating a new one.

Step 2: Keep It Safe

Post locating the dislodged filling or crown, ensure its safety by storing it in a small, secure container. This reduces the risk of further damage or loss. In several instances, dentists could potentially clean and reattach it, making for an efficient and cost-effective solution.

Step 3: Rinse Your Mouth

Once the filling or crown is safely set aside, rinse your mouth with warm saline or plain water. This step aids in removing leftover food particles or dental cement. If the empty tooth space feels sharp or abrasive, protect your surrounding oral tissues by covering it with sugar-free gum or an over-the-counter dental adhesive if you have any. Some pharmacies also sell temporary tooth cements, ideal for such instances, helping prevent cuts, ulcers, or general discomfort until professional dental consultation can be sought.

Step 4: Apply Dental Cement

Over-the-counter dental cement is beneficial as a temporary fix for a dislodged filling or crown. When applied to an exposed tooth, it forms a protective cover preventing sensitivity, discomfort, and further damage. It’s not a long-term solution, but it provides temporary relief until you visit a dentist.

Step 5: Avoid Eating on the Affected Side

To avoid exacerbating the situation, it’s essential to avoid chewing food on the side where the filling or crown has dislodged. This helps in preventing further harm to the now vulnerable tooth and surrounding tissue, reducing the risk of pain, discomfort, or potential infection.

Step 6: Avoid Eating Hard or Cold Food

Following dislodgement, your tooth might be hypersensitive, particularly to hard or cold food items. Sensitive teeth can cause discomfort or pain. Continue to maintain oral hygiene by gently brushing and flossing to prevent infections. However, ensure extra care around the affected site.

Step 7: Use Pain Reliever If Needed

If you feel pain or discomfort, you can take over-the-counter pain relievers, following the dosage with the instructions. These can reduce discomfort until professional dental assistance is sought. However, avoid placing aspirin or any other painkiller directly onto the gums, as it can irritate or burn the gum tissue, resulting in further complications.

Step 8: Schedule an Emergency Dental Appointment

Scheduling an emergency dental appointment as soon as possible after dislodgement of a filling or crown is vital. Such incidents expose the tooth to potential injury, infection, and further decay, given its direly compromised protective shield. A dentist can evaluate the situation and apply a professional and long-term solution, restoring your oral health effectively. This could be an emergency dental filling, a root canal procedure, or a new dental crown.

Why Is It Important to Have an Emergency Crown Repair?

  • Tooth Protection. Your crown serves as a shield for a weakened or damaged tooth. Its absence leaves the tooth vulnerable to further damage or decay.
  • Pain Relief. Dislodging of a crown can cause discomfort or pain. Prompt repair can alleviate these symptoms.
  • Prevents Infection. An exposed tooth is more susceptible to bacterial infection, potentially leading to more serious dental problems.
  • Restores Functionality. A missing crown can impede basic oral functions like eating or speaking. Emergency repair addresses this issue.
  • Prevents Misalignment. The gap left by a missing crown could lead to movement or shifting of surrounding teeth, disturbing your bite alignment.
  • Saves Money. Delaying treatment could result in more complex issues and in turn, more expensive solutions down the line.
  • Maintains Aesthetics. A missing crown, especially in the front teeth, could affect one’s smile aesthetics. Quick repairing helps maintain your smile.

How Does Your Dentist Handle an Emergency Dental Crown Repair

Proper care for a lost filling or broken crown involves booking a dental appointment for an assessment and professional treatment. Your dentist will examine the situation, clean out any decay, and prepare your tooth root for a new dental filling or crown. Often, a root canal treatment may be required if the tooth decay is deep.

You will typically receive a temporary crown while waiting for your permanent crown to be made. For patients who require immediate solutions, same-day crowns might be an option. The choices range from metal crowns, ceramic crowns, and porcelain crowns to a combination of materials.

How Can You Prevent Dental Emergencies?

  • Regular Check-ups. Dentists recommend routine dental checkups at least twice a year, even if you are not experiencing any discomfort or notable issues. Regular professional cleaning removes plaque and tartar buildup that cannot be removed through regular brushing and flossing. Plus, dentists can detect potential problems early and recommend appropriate corrective measures.
  • Follow to Good Oral Hygiene Routine. This includes brushing and flossing twice a day. Also, ensure the use of fluoride toothpaste to strengthen teeth enamel and reduce the risk of decay and cavities. Regularly using an antibacterial mouthwash can also help keep your teeth clean and gums healthy, preventing infection.
  • Balanced Diet. Avoid foods rich in sugar and carbohydrates as they create acidic conditions in your mouth, leading to tooth erosion and, eventually, cavities. Try to incorporate more calcium-rich foods for stronger teeth.
  • Avoid Hard Foods. Hard foods can cause damage to your dental crowns or fillings. Try to bite and chew using the unaffected side of your mouth to reduce the stress on the crown or filling.
  • Avoid Grinding Your Teeth. Bruxism (teeth grinding) can harm your teeth and dental restorations. If you have a habit of grinding your teeth, especially during sleep, consider talking to your dentist about using a mouth guard.
  • Do Not Use Teeth as a Tool. Using your teeth to open packages or bottle caps or to cut objects can damage your natural teeth and dental restorations.

Let Mooney Dental Handle Your Filling and Dental Crown Emergencies


Lost dental fillings or crowns require prompt dental attention to prevent pain and infection and restore your oral health. At Mooney Dental, we provide top-notch emergency dentistry services to cater to all your dental needs promptly.

At our dental office, our experienced emergency dentist can attend to your needs when they arise. All you have to do is call us and schedule an appointment. Our priority is to manage your discomfort and pain and provide the right treatment plan.

Contact us

At Mooney Dental, we are committed to providing you with high-quality dental care at your convenience. We look forward to seeing you at your next appointment!

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