People like their dental crowns firmly attached to
their teeth. When a crown becomes loose, dentists are
not always available to replace them. In many cases,
people can temporarily re-cement their loose crown just
like a dentist. When a crown falls off a tooth, look
inside the crown. If the crown is full to the brim with
hard or soft material, the tooth may be broken. Look at
the tooth in the mouth. If the tooth breaks even with
the gum line, wait for the dentist's assistance. Be sure
to consult a dentist if there is extreme pain or
If the crown is mostly hollow, that is a good sign.
If the crown has a quarter to half inch post sticking
out of it, that is good as well. In either case, that
means that the cement that holds the crown onto the
tooth probably gave way. Crowns like that are relatively
easy to re-cement.
Gather the tools and materials necessary to re-cement
the crown. First, find something to use for the cement.
Many Pharmacies and grocery stores carry temporary
filling material. A popular brand is
Dentemp. Buy two or
three doses of cement. The crown could loosen again or
not go on correctly the first time.
Denture adhesive or
even sugar free chewing gum may work in a pinch. A paper
clip is a handy tool to clean the old cement out of the
crown. Get a toothpick and floss to clean away the
excess cement. Find a countertop or vanity mirror; a
countertop, magnifying mirror is better. A toothbrush
rounds out the armamentarium.
First, clean off the tooth with the toothbrush and
floss. Rinse away loose particles of cement or food.
Then, clean out the crown. Open the paperclip, and use
it to scrape any loose cement out of the crown. For
crowns that have posts, scrap the cement off the post.
If the post falls off, or becomes very loose, leave this
job to the dentist. Do not worry if the tooth is
somewhat sensitive to cold water, air, or touch.
Sensitivity is normal for teeth that have not had root
Now that the tooth and crown are as clean as
possible, try to fit the crown to the tooth without
cement. The crown should seat securely. The opposing
teeth should be able to bite together without feeling
that the crown is higher than the other teeth. If the
crown does not feel right, clean the crown and the tooth
again. Try seating the crown different ways. When it
does not fit correctly one way, try turning it around.
It may have to slide in from the cheek side or from the
tongue. Be patient. This step is critical. Sometimes,
even dentists have trouble at this point. Do not
re-cement the crown if it does not feel right without
The next step is important, as well. Look in the
mirror. Take the crown out, and replace it a few times.
Get a good feel for how the crown slides onto or how the
post slides into the tooth. Check each time that the
teeth bite together normally. See how the crown lines up
with the teeth around it.
Now, carefully read the directions for the temporary
cement. Some are ready to use. Some cement requires
mixing a liquid and powder. There are cements that can
temporarily fill teeth or cement crowns. Use the correct
set of instructions for the job.
Clear a flat workspace. Dry the tooth and the crown
with cotton gauze or tissue. Do not leave bits of paper
or tissue on either. Mix the cement. Fill the crown or
apply cement to the post and the underside of the crown.
Squeeze the crown onto the tooth as in the practice
step. Bite together. After a minute or two (look at the
directions for the cement), clean the excess cement from
the edge of the crown on the tongue and cheek sides with
the toothpick. Then, use floss to clean between the
teeth. Do not pull the floss out from between the teeth
by both ends. Release one end and pull the floss through
while biting. Use the toothbrush and toothpick to clean
the cement off the crown and the other teeth.
Now that the crown is back where it belongs, it may
be fine for days or even weeks. Carry the tool kit
around until the dentist can do a more permanent job.
A final note: some people find it easier if a very
close friend or relative does this for them.
Additionally, remember not to swallow the crown,
although it will pass through without incident if you
Leader is the Chairman of the Health
Advisory Committee of the Lynnfield Schools, a member of
the Professional Advisory Committee of Tri-CAP Head
Start, and is a member of the Mass Dental Society
Council on Dental Care and Benefits Programs.