Temporary Crown Chipped: Causes & What to Do

If you are getting a dental crown, your dentist will place a temporary crown on the prepared tooth until your permanent crown is ready. The temporary dental crown protects the prepared tooth from damage. However, temporary crowns are not durable and can chip or break easily if not handled with proper care. If your temporary crown is chipped or broken, you should contact your dentist without delay to prevent further damage. In this blog post, we will discuss the possible causes of a chipped temporary crown and what to do.

Why Do You Need a Temporary Crown?

Your dentist may recommend a permanent dental crown, such as a porcelain crown, if you have a tooth with extensive tooth decay, a broken tooth, or discolored teeth, or have undergone root canal treatment. It restores the original tooth’s function and appearance. The first step in the dental crown procedure is preparing the fractured tooth for a permanent crown. During tooth preparation, the dentist reduces the entire tooth size by removing some of the tooth structure to make room for your future crown.

Once the prepared tooth has been shaped and contoured, a temporary crown will be cemented on the prepared tooth with a temporary cement to protect it from further damage until your porcelain or ceramic crown is ready. Temporary crowns can be made from composite resin, acrylic-based material, or metal crowns.

Uses & Benefits

  • Prevent dental pain or tooth sensitivity: If the prepared tooth is vital, you may experience dental pain or tooth sensitivity with hot or cold foods and drinks.
  • Protect the prepared tooth: The temporary crown prevents further damage to the chipped or broken tooth until your new permanent crown is ready.
  • Prevent the movement of surrounding teeth: The adjacent teeth may shift and opposing teeth may over-erupt, resulting in a poor fit of the permanent crown.
  • Maintain good oral hygiene: A temporary composite or acrylic crown prevents the accumulation of food particles around the prepared tooth, reducing the risk of tooth decay and bacterial infection of the gum tissue. It acts as a protective barrier from food debris and bacteria.
  • Restore the chewing function: A composite or acrylic crown can protect the vulnerable tooth from chewing forces and help re-establish your usual chewing pattern.
  • Restore your smile: The temporary composite or acrylic crown are also used for cosmetic reasons. It can restore your original tooth appearance and help you smile confidently until your permanent crown is ready.

However, temporary crowns are not as strong or durable as permanent dental crowns. They are not designed for long-term use like permanent durable crowns, which are specifically designed to withstand the daily pressures of chewing and biting over many years.

A temporary crown is not a permanent solution and can easily chip, crack, or fracture with prolonged wear. A chipped temporary crown can fail to adequately protect the prepared tooth, causing discomfort or further damage.

A temporary crown on a prepared tooth
A temporary crown is used as a temporary solution to protect the prepared tooth while waiting for a permanent crown.

Possible Causes for a Chipped Temporary Crown

The temporary crown can become chipped or broken if you don’t handle it with proper care. Here are common reasons for a chipped temporary crown:

  • Eating hard, crunchy, and sticky food: Temporary crowns can chip or break when you bite on hard foods like popcorn kernels, carrots, or nuts. Avoid eating sticky, tough, chewy foods that can put excessive pressure on the temporary crown.
  • Teeth grinding: A chipped temporary crown may occur due to excessive pressure from high chewing force or teeth grinding. Bruxism can also cause permanent crowns to crack or chip. Learn more about how to repair a chipped crown with exposed metal.
  • Trauma: If you fall or hit your mouth while playing sports, the temporary crown may become chipped or broken.
  • Bad oral habits, such as biting off a pen or using your teeth to open a can.
  • Picking your teeth: if you have food debris on the chipped tooth and pick at it with your finger, a temporary crown may chip or break.
  • Poor Fit: If the temporary dental crown is not accurately aligned or properly seated on the prepared tooth, it can be more prone to chipping or breaking.

Signs and Symptoms of a Chipped Temporary Crown

If you suspect that your temporary dental crown has chipped or broken, here are some signs and symptoms to look out for:

  • Visible damage: Look for any visible chips, cracks, or fractures on the surface of the crown. If you notice any irregularities or a hole in the temporary crown, your crown is likely broken or chipped.
  • Discomfort or dental pain: A chipped temporary crown may cause sensitivity or pain when biting down on food or when pressure is applied to the affected area. You may also experience discomfort when your tongue or lips come into contact with the chipped crown.
  • Tooth sensitivity: If the broken crown exposes the underlying tooth structure, you may experience increased tooth sensitivity to hot, cold, or sweet foods and beverages.
  • Loose crown: A chipped temporary crown may become loose or move slightly in the mouth. This can be a result of the chipped portion compromising the stability and fit of the crown.
  • Rough edges: A broken crown may feel rough or jagged to the tongue or lips. Be cautious of any sharp edges that can potentially cause injury to your mouth.

What To Do If Your Temporary Crown is Chipped?

If you notice visible damage to your temporary dental crown such as sharp edges or a broken piece, it’s important to take action to prevent further complications. Here’s what you can do:

  • Contact your dentist: Reach out to your dentist as soon as possible to notify them about the chipped temporary crown. They will guide you on the next steps and schedule a dental appointment to assess the damage.
  • Avoid chewing on the affected side: Avoid chewing on the prepared tooth and chipped temporary crown as it may cause damage. Stick to softer foods that are easier to chew to minimize stress on the crown.
  • Keep the area clean: Maintain good oral hygiene by brushing and flossing gently around the chipped temporary crown to prevent the accumulation of food debris, which can cause tooth decay and gum disease, a bacterial infection of the gum tissue. Use saltwater rinse; mix one teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water and rinse your mouth thoroughly.
  • Avoid sticky or hard foods: To prevent additional damage, avoid foods that can put excessive pressure on the broken crown. This includes sticky candies, hard nuts, and crunchy snacks. If the prepared tooth is vital, avoid hot or cold foods and drinks to prevent pain or tooth sensitivity.
  • Use temporary dental cement: If your temporary crown becomes dislodged, consider using temporary adhesive, readily available at pharmacies, to temporarily reattach the crown. This can provide a temporary solution until your dental appointment.
  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers: If you have severe pain in your mouth, contact your dentists and take over-the-counter pain medication as recommended by your dentist.

What to Expect During a Dental Appointment for a Chipped Temporary Crown?

When you go to your dental appointment for a chipped temporary crown, the dentist will examine the extent of the damage and determine the best treatment option. Here’s what you can expect during the dental appointment:

  • Evaluation: The dentist will carefully inspect the broken or chipped temporary dental crown and assess the underlying tooth structure. They will check for any signs of infection, decay, or damage to the tooth. The dentist may take X-rays to get a better view of the affected tooth and surrounding areas. This can help them identify any underlying issues that may require additional treatment.
  • Temporary crown removal: The dentist will carefully remove the chipped temporary crown and broken crown fragments. This process is usually painless and involves gently loosening the cement holding the crown in place.
  • Additional treatment: If the prepared tooth exhibits signs of decay or damage beyond what was initially visible, the dentist may recommend additional treatment options, such as root canal treatment.
  • Temporary crown procedure: The dentist will remove any residual temporary cement, ensuring the tooth surface is clean and smooth. The dentist will take dental impressions of the prepared tooth to create a new temporary crown that fits snugly and securely.

How To Care for Your Crown?

When you have a temporary crown, follow these tips to ensure it lasts long enough until you get a permanent crown:

  • Avoid hard or sticky food: If the prepared tooth is vital, avoid chewing on ice, popcorn kernels, carrots, or nuts until your permanent crown is ready.
  • Choose soft and cooked food for your meals: If you have to chew hard foods, do it slowly so that minimal force is generated.
  • Maintain good oral hygiene: Brush and floss your teeth as usual. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and gentle brushing motion.
  • Use a nightguard: Teeth grinding can damage your teeth and lead to TMJ disorders. It also can break your permanent crown.
  • Don’t postpone your next dentist appointment: Temporary crowns are not designed for long-term use. So, visit your dentist on time to get your permanent crown.

Conclusion

A temporary crown is a tooth cover made from materials like composite resin or acrylic materials. It is used as a temporary solution while waiting for a permanent crown to be fabricated. It serves several important functions, such as preventing dental pain or tooth sensitivity, protecting the prepared tooth from damage, and maintaining good oral hygiene and a healthy mouth.

Temporary composite or acrylic crowns are not designed for long-term use. They may chip or break for several reasons. If your crown chips or breaks, it is important to contact your dentist as soon as possible to address the issue and prevent complications. In most cases, chipped or broken crowns are replaced.

With proper care and regular dental visits, you can ensure that your temporary dental crown remains intact until your permanent crown is ready. A healthy and well-maintained crown can contribute to a beautiful smile and optimal oral health.

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