Is a Cracked Porcelain Crown a Dental Emergency?

I had several porcelain crowns placed on my front teeth. They’ve served me well for over fifteen years. One has always had a minor defect you couldn’t see just by looking. My dentist told me about it and offered to do a different crown, but she did say that even our natural teeth have minor defects and it shouldn’t be a problem. I appreciated her honesty and her willingness to make an entire new one. I didn’t feel that was necessary and their longevity has born that out. Today, however, I noticed I can both see and feel the defect. I’m sure it needs to be replaced at this point, I’m just wondering if it is a dental emergency or I can wait. The original dentist has since retired and her replacement and I are just getting to know one another so I don’t yet have the same confidence in her.

Lindsey

Dear Lindsey,

A Dental Crown being Placed

It sounds like you and your old dentist had a wonderful doctor-patient relationship. It’s certainly hard to lose a trusted caregiver. Hopefully, her replacement will end up being equally honest and skilled. While this change in your dental crown isn’t necessarily a dental emergency, I don’t want you to get too comfortable and let this slide. You do need to be seen.

The fact that you can now see and feel the defect tells me it’s cracked. It will at some point completely break. Those type of things inevitably happen at the worst possible moments, like when you’re on vacation or out to dinner. It’s much better for you to get this dealt with well before it can become an emergency issue. Plus, it will give you peace of mind knowing it’s no longer at risk of breaking.

Who Should Replace Your Dental Crown?

You’re not familiar with your new dentist yet, so before you allow her to replace your porcelain crown, you will need to research her cosmetic skill. At the very least check out her smile gallery. It’s a collection of before and after pictures of cosmetic work she’s done. You can click here to look at Dr. Burba’s work to get an idea of the type of quality you want. These are front teeth so you want them to be beautiful when you smile.

Some dentists would try to persuade you to replace all the crowns so as to make them easier to match. That’s usually a sign they’re not top-notch cosmetic dentists. The crowns are aging, so if you want to go ahead and replace all of them, that’s fine. But, you mentioned they’re still in good shape. In that case, you really only have to replace the broken one.

Replacing a single crown to your remaining teeth takes an expert cosmetic dentist. I’d suggest you look for a dentist who’s reached accreditation level with the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. AACD accredited dentists are experts in their field both in technical skill and artistry. They’ll match your crown perfectly.

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