What to Do When Your Dental Crown Breaks?

By Heritage Dental - Katy

Dental crowns are a vital solution for restoring damaged teeth, enhancing both function and aesthetics. They act as caps placed over teeth to protect them and restore their shape, making them crucial for those with broken or severely worn-down teeth. However, even with proper care, there are instances when a dental crown breaks. Knowing what to do in such a situation is essential to prevent further damage and ensure prompt repair. Here’s a comprehensive guide to handling the unexpected when a dental crown breaks.

1. Evaluate the Situation

The first thing to do when you notice that your dental crown breaks is to assess the severity of the break. Is the crown completely detached, cracked, or just chipped? If the crown is loose or has come off, be sure to save it, as your dentist may be able to reattach it. Check if there is any pain or bleeding and avoid touching or trying to fix the crown yourself. Understanding the extent of the damage will aid you in explaining the situation to your dentist.

2. Protect the Tooth and Crown

If the crown has come off, you must take steps to protect the underlying tooth structure. Covering the tooth with sugar-free gum or over-the-counter dental cement can provide temporary protection. Avoid using any household glues or adhesives, as they can cause more harm than good. If the crown is salvageable, clean it gently with lukewarm water and store it in a safe place to bring to your dentist.

3. Contact Your Dentist Immediately

After a dental crown breaks, it’s crucial to get in touch with your dentist as soon as possible. Many dental practices offer emergency appointments or will prioritize cases where a restoration has failed. Explain the situation clearly over the phone, including any discomfort you are experiencing. The quicker you act, the more likely it is that your dentist will be able to repair or replace the crown effectively.

4. Manage Pain and Sensitivity

If the exposed tooth or remaining part of the crown is sensitive to temperature, air, or pressure, there are several ways to manage discomfort:

  • Use over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen according to package instructions.
  • Avoid foods and drinks that are too hot, cold, or sugary, which can aggravate sensitivity.
  • Keep your mouth clean by gently brushing around the area and using a saltwater rinse to reduce the risk of infection.

5. Maintain Oral Hygiene

Maintaining good oral hygiene is crucial, especially when a dental crown breaks. You should continue to brush and floss regularly, being gentle around the damaged area to prevent further injury or infection. Keeping the area clean helps ensure that the tooth remains healthy and ready for when the crown is repaired or replaced.

6. Avoid Certain Foods

Until you can see your dentist, it’s wise to avoid certain types of foods:

  • Sticky or chewy foods can pull on or dislodge the temporary protective covering or the broken crown itself.
  • Hard foods might cause pain or further damage to the exposed tooth.
  • Opt for soft foods that require minimal chewing and try to chew on the opposite side of your mouth from the affected tooth.

7. Understand the Causes

Understanding why your dental crown broke can help prevent future incidents. Crowns can break due to several factors, including:

  • Biting on hard foods or objects: This is one of the most common reasons for crown failure.
  • Poor crown fit or installation issues: Sometimes the crown may not fit well, causing uneven pressure during biting.
  • Underlying tooth decay: Decay can weaken the tooth under the crown, compromising its support.
  • Trauma or accidents: Physical impacts can crack or dislodge crowns just as they can natural teeth.

8. Prevent Future Breaks

Preventing future breaks involves several proactive steps:

  • Visit your dentist regularly for check-ups to ensure that your crown and surrounding teeth remain in good condition.
  • Use a nightguard if you grind your teeth, which can protect crowns from excessive force.
  • Practice good oral hygiene to keep the underlying tooth healthy.


When a dental crown breaks, it can be distressing, but quick and appropriate actions can mitigate serious consequences. By understanding the proper steps to take—assessing the damage, protecting the tooth, contacting your dentist, managing pain, and avoiding certain foods—you can handle the situation more effectively. Always follow your dentist’s advice and take preventive measures to protect your dental health. Remember, a proactive approach can extend the life of your crown and ensure your smile remains beautiful and functional.