What to do if you swallow your crown.

You really only have three choices.

It's possible to have a dental crown come off and, before you realize what has happened, find that you have swallowed it (allowed the cap to pass into your stomach).

In this situation, you only have three alternatives.

  1. Make yourself throw up and look for the crown in what comes up.
  2. Look for your crown in your bowel movements.
  3. Make no attempt to retrieve it. Arrange for your dentist to make you a new one.

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What to do if your dental crown comes off. (And you retrieve it before swallowing it.)

1) Regurgitate the contents of your stomach and look for the crown.

As disagreeable as this approach may seem, it has the big advantage that it gives you the potential to have your crown back in hand promptly. Dental crowns aren't cheap, so putting a little effort into a vomit-and-search approach can make a lot of financial sense.

It's best to throw up into a container (plastic dishpan, or strainer / dishpan combination), as opposed to straight into a sink. With the later, the crown might escape down the drain.

After cleaning up the crown (a soaking in a 1:10 dilution of household bleach should be sufficient) the loose crown can be temporarily worn until that point in time when your dentist can permanently recement it.

2) Look for your lost dental crown in your stools.

When compared to our first suggestion, this approach may seem even more disgusting. But, once again, just keep in mind that retrieving the cap can save you the substantial cost of a new one.

Play it safe and start looking for the crown in your very next bowel movement. It might, however, take as long as 3 to 5 days for the cap to pass.

Your dentist will need to make you a temporary crown to wear while you wait. This will keep the tooth, and it's adjacent and opposing teeth, from shifting position.

Once the crown does show up, clean it up the best you can. You don't, however, have to be overly concerned about this point. Your dentist will be able to sterilize it before it's recemented.

3) Don't try to retrieve the swallowed crown and instead just have your dentist make you a new one.

This approach does provide a solution but it also has some drawbacks. The most obvious one, of course, is that you will have to go to the time and of expense of having a new dental crown made. There are, however, other considerations.

For one, it's important to know that a swallowed crown has exited your body. If the crown disappeared down your throat uneventfully, the odds favor that you did just swallow it (it entered into your stomach). If so, in most cases it will uneventfully pass on through your digestive system.

The crown could, however, become lodged. Or, and especially in the case that you experienced a lot of coughing when the crown disappeared, it might have entered into the airway that leads to your lungs. These are less likely events but you should report your experiences and findings to your dentist so they can evaluate your situation and make the appropriate diagnostic or treatment recommendation.

[ Reference: Diamond, R. Dental First Aid for Families. Idyll Arbor, Inc. 2000. ]

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