The crown portion of a dental implant is the visible part that resembles a tooth. While the implant itself, which is the metal post inserted into the bone, should last you for life, the crown can suffer damage. The following guide can help you avoid damage to the crown while also providing you with help if the crown does break.

Eat (and Drink) Cautiously

With an implant, you can eat just about any food that you enjoyed with your natural teeth, but you still want to be cautious. For example, popcorn kernels or small bones can crack a crown, just like they can damage a natural tooth. Alternating between hot and cold foods or beverages can also result in a cracked crown. This is because the rapid temperature fluctuations can weaken the porcelain that the crown is made from. Hot beverages can also heat up the metal implant post, resulting in burns to your gums.

Bad Vibrations

To install a crown, your dentist inserts a screw into the implant post, and then they cement the crown to the top of the screw. If you use an electric toothbrush, the vibrations can loosen the internal screw. Unfortunately, there is no way tighten this screw once the crown is cemented in place, short of removing the crown. Removal generally requires breaking the crown, followed by the expense of replacing it with a new one.

Skip the Floss

You don't want to floss around your implants for two reasons. First, the floss can catch the crown and loosen it. Second, floss weakens the seal of the gums around the implant itself, which can result in a bacterial infection that leads to bone loss. This can further cause the implant post to loosen so that both the implant and the crown come out.

Emergency Tips

If your crown does chip, you have a few options:

  • Check the implant site carefully and remove all the loose pieces of the crown. If there are no remaining crown pieces, this isn't an emergency and you can call your dentist for an appointment during regular business hours.

  • Call your dentist's emergency after-hours line if there are very sharp pieces of the crown still attached, since these can cut your tongue, gums, or cheeks. You can place a wad of gauze over the broken crown to avoid injury, just don't fall asleep with it in your mouth.

  • Save the crown, especially if it comes off in one piece. Sometimes your dentist can repair minor damage to a crown, or place it back on the implant if it was just the cement that failed. This can save you the expense of a full replacement crown. For more information, contact a business such as South Florida Dental Arts.