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Is a Defective Crown a Dental Emergency?

Several years ago, I had porcelain crowns done across all my front teeth. They look great overall, and I’m actually still very happy with the aesthetics. One of them has always had a rough spot or a divot, though. I can feel it with my tongue, but I have never been able to see anything wrong with it. I did mention it to the dentist who did the crowns and she smoothed it out some, but I’ve still noticed it over the years. It was close, but not quite perfect. Lately, it has been feeling different- much more rough,  and I can actually see a dark mark. I don’t know if it’s just attracting stains or what, but I don’t think I’ve changed my habits and I get regular cleanings. I’m a little concerned that it is failing and that I’m going to be out on a business trip and the whole thing will crumble. Is this urgent enough to warrant a trip to the emergency dentist? Should I have the crown redone now or am I worrying about nothing?

Hank B. – Kansas

Dear Hank,

This may not necessitate a trip to the emergency dentist,  but it is something you should get checked out in the near future. It’s common for crowns (and natural teeth) to have some defects, but it sounds like yours has changed. It’s possible it has cracked.

If that’s the case, you would notice that it’s picking up stains as well. If it’s cracked, it will eventually break. There’s no way to predict exactly when that will happen.

Rather than letting it turn into a trip to the emergency dentist, especially if you’re an avid traveler, you should find a dentist who is skilled at cosmetic work in the very near future and have him examine it.

Depending on the age of the crown, it might be time to start thinking about replacing them all. Don’t be surprised if the dentist mentions this. However, the only reason to update the others is age or wear and tear. If the dentist suggests switching them all out so he can make them all match, that’s a sign that you’re not working with a skilled cosmetic dentist. You should be able to have just that one replaced and have it blend naturally, without having the others redone, too. Best of luck to you.

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