What to do if you've swallowed your dental crown. -

What can happen if you did? | Ways to retrieve the crown. | How long will it take for it to pass? | Issues and concerns.

Swallowed dental crowns.

Consider this scenario. While you're eating dinner, you have a crown come off your tooth. But before you realize it has, you've gone ahead and swallowed it with a mouthful of food.

If you've had this happen, this page explains what DIY options exist, and really there are only three. You can either ...

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

 

This page discusses each of these three scenarios. And gives you an idea of what to expect with each one.

▶ Related page - What to do if your dental crown comes off. (And you've retrieved it before swallowing it.)


Details -

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

As disagreeable as having to throw up may seem, performing this option has a big advantage. If it works, you'll have your crown back immediately.

That can provide a lot of peace of mind for a person because dental crowns aren't cheap. And having yours in hand removes concerns about having to go through the time and expense of having it replaced.

It also means that you can have your dentist recement your crown promptly before any tooth shifting that may affect its fit has a chance to occur. (A failure in regard to this point can render an otherwise perfectly fine crown useless.)

Tips and pointers.

  • It's best to throw up into a container, like a plastic dishpan. Or better yet, a colander-held-over-a-dishpan combination.

    Vomiting straight into a sink makes a poor choice because the crown may inadvertently escape down the drain.

 

  • After washing the crown off thoroughly, you can disinfect it by soaking it in a 1:10 dilution of household bleach (5.25% sodium hypochlorite) and water for 10 minutes. (OSHA)
  • After that, it's a good idea to periodically wear the crown (as we outline here) until that point in time when your dentist can permanently recement it for you. (Information about recementation costs.)

    Doing so can prevent tooth shifting, help to keep your tooth comfortable if it has air or thermal sensitivity, and allow you to maintain a normal appearance for some events if that is needed.

Section references - OSHA.gov


2) Looking for your swallowed crown in your stools.

When compared to the first method, this one may seem even more objectionable. But once again, just keep in mind that your efforts can save you the cost of having a new crown made, which can be substantial.

How long will it take the crown to pass?

Just to play it safe, it makes a good plan to start looking for your crown in your very next bowel movement. But more realistically, here are some statistics that apply:

  • The restoration probably won't show up for at least 12 to 14 hours.

    (But starting to look before that, if nothing else, gives you an opportunity to establish a routine. One that helps to ensure that you don't overlook or inadvertently lose the crown when searching later on.)

 

  • The remainder of the meal that you were eating when the event occurred may not finish passing for 36 to 48 hours. (This event on its own may or may not hold much bearing on the amount of time that it ultimately takes for your crown to pass.)
  • If by that point you still haven't found your crown, there's no reason not to keep searching your stools for an extended number of days.

 

Retrieval times for swallowed crowns reported in dental literature.

Here are some real-life examples of how long it took for swallowed crowns to pass through the person's digestive tract and be found in their stool.

Kharbanda reports on a case involving a crown that took 5 days to pass. A paper by Khouri reports about a case involving a dental bridge that took 2 days.

But longer "egestion" periods are common too.

A paper by Obinata makes specific mention of a crown that took 9 days to pass, as well as additional cases where all of the objects had egested within 10 days.

Absi states that objects that make it into the stomach can be expected to pass through the gut over a 7 to 10 day period.

A flow chart outlining treatment modalities for ingested/aspirated foreign objects by Yadav suggests that if a crown that's been ingested hasn't egested by day 14 that consultation with a gastroenterologist about the possible need for endoscopy/surgery should be considered.

Section references - Lehrer, Kharbanda, Khouri, Obinata, Absi, Yadav

Retrieval times for swallowed crowns reported in our comments section.

People choosing to post in our comments section at the bottom of this page have reported passage times ranging from 4 to 21 days.

Tips and pointers.

  • As silly as this seems, once you know you've swallowed your crown you might eat some corn. Food won't necessarily pass through your system at the exact same rate as your restoration. But it can act as a marker of sorts.

 

  • The safest step that can be taken is to have your dentist make a temporary crown for your tooth to wear while waiting for its permanent one to reappear. This will restore your tooth's function and its appearance.

    It will also, very importantly, prevent your teeth from shifting. (Crowned teeth, and their neighbors, will tend to shift during times when the crown is not present. Sometimes to the extent that the retrieved restoration is rendered useless and as such can't be recemented.)

  • Once your crown has passed and has been found, it should be cleaned.

    After washing off the crown thoroughly, it can be disinfected by soaking it in a 1:10 dilution of household bleach (5.25% sodium hypochlorite) and water for 10 minutes. (OSHA - see link above.)

    Sterilization, a higher level of decontamination, can be accomplished by your dentist's office.

 


3) Making no attempt to retrieve the swallowed crown.

Choosing to do nothing clearly has some drawbacks.

a) Cost.

An obvious one is that you'll have to go to the time and expense of having a new crown made.

b) It's good to know where the swallowed crown is.

It's both comforting and necessary to know that the crown has exited your body. We discuss this issue next.


How much supervision do you require if you've swallowed your dental crown?

If your crown has disappeared down your throat during a swallow with food (the premise of this page), it has most likely entered into your stomach. And in most cases, once reaching that point will ultimately be egested (expelled) uneventfully via a bowel movement some number of days later.

The potential problem - Why contact with your dentist is needed.

As opposed to making it into your stomach, there is some possibility that the restoration has instead entered into your respiratory system. This latter situation is a serious event (sometimes an immediate medical emergency) that requires medical attention.

In most cases, and as discussed just below, one can develop a firm idea of which event has taken place. But since the latter possibility exists, in all cases you should contact your dentist so they can pass judgment on your situation and make a recommendation about what treatment is indicated.

Understanding where the crown is is key.

In performing research for this page, we couldn't help but notice a sentence in a paper by Glen that stated that "A patient that has swallowed a crown would not be expected to require any intervention." But this seems to be in reference to objects, like crowns, that have been unquestionably identified (by x-ray evaluation) as residing in the person's stomach or further along in their digestive tract.

So at least initially, your dentist may feel that identifying the location of your crown via radiographic examination is needed before any sort of treatment plan in response to the event is devised.

And even after that initial confirmation, a dentist may feel that the restoration should continue to be monitored via x-rays until it has exited the digestive system. (First 3 days later, then weekly). (Glen)

However, in light of the statistics mentioned below, and as discussed in Glen's paper, this high level of radiographic assessment probably isn't needed in most cases. But ultimately, that is for your dentist to decide.

Section references - Glen


Possible outcomes for crowns that have disappeared down your throat. -

a) The swallowed crown has ended up in your digestive system.

If your crown goes down your throat during a routine swallow (while you are upright, awake and alert), the odds favor that it has simply traversed your esophagus and entered into your stomach. This is especially true if the process associated with the swallow was uneventful (for a comparison, see our respiratory section below).

That's because during the act of swallowing, a person's epiglottis seals their tracheal opening (airway passage) so that the materials being consumed pass on down their esophagus and into their stomach.

Statistics about swallowed crowns.
  • The textbook on dental medical emergencies by Malamed states that more than 90% of swallowed foreign objects that enter the stomach pass completely through the person's GI tract without complications.
  • Somewhat similarly, a paper by Khouri suggests that 10 to 20% of swallowed-object cases require non-operative intervention and, at most, 1% of cases require surgery.
  • A paper by Glen cites a research study that suggests that "ingested foreign bodies that get through the esophagus (meaning into the stomach) will pass in the person's stool in 99% of cases."

Section references - Malamed, Khouri, Glen

b) The lost crown has ended up in your respiratory system (aspiration).

It's much rarer for a person who is awake, alert and upright to "swallow" their crown and it ends up entering their respiratory system. This is referred to as having "aspirated" the crown.

  • In most cases, when this event has occurred, the person will display some obvious, characteristic signs. They include the sudden onset of coughing, choking, wheezing, and/or shortness of breath.
  • In 90% of cases, these signs will occur immediately to within 1 hour of the aspiration event. However, with others, they may not be displayed until some hours later.

 

  • The aspiration of a crown can be a life-threatening event. Basic emergency life support techniques, like those taught in American Heart Association classes to counter airway obstructions, may need to be implemented immediately (back blows, abdominal thrusts, chest thrusts).
  • If the crown can't be dislodged and expelled noninvasively, medical intervention will be needed to remove the object before further complications occur.

Additional page reference sources - Diamond

 
 
search

 Page references sources: 

Absi EG, et al. The location and tracking of swallowed dental appliances: the role of radiology.

Diamond R. Dental First Aid for Families.

Glen P, et al. An unusual extraction; retrieval of a swallowed crown by appendicectomy.

Kharbanda OP, et al. Accidental swallowing of a gold cast crown during orthodontic tooth separation.

Khouri AT, et al. Accidental swallowing of a four unit anterior bridge: A case report.

Lehrer J. Bowel transit time.

Malamed S. Medical emergencies in the dental office. Chapter: Foreign body airway obstruction.

Obinata K, et al. An investigation of accidental ingestion during dental procedures.

OSHA.gov General Decontamination.

Yadav RK, et al. Accidental aspiration/ingestion of foreign bodies in dentistry: A clinical and legal perspective.

All reference sources for topic Dental Crowns.

Comments

What to do if I swallowed my crown

Good helpful article. Just for reference,
I swallowed my gold crown on a Sunday
afternoon and pooped it out Thursday
morning - about 4 days. Maybe it will
help the next person.
Thanks.

time for passing

I hate to be vulgar, but I am very regular, going 1-2x every day. I swallowed my crown wednesday night. I went on thursday with no luck and went friday morning with no luck. Friday morning I was already seeing the remnants of Thursday's dinner. Is it possible that I have passed thursday's dinner but not yet the crown swallowed Wednesday? Is it more likely that I somehow missed it? Could it be lodged somewhere in my intestine?

Swallowed-Pooped.out-Crown

I had swallowed my crown on overnight sleep Saturday-Sunday...

(Yes believe me, it really does happen! At first i was skeptical with what my wife was saying, as i believed my GAG REFLEX would be able to stop it. But...)

Couldn't find it anywhere the whole Sunday. Then Monday morning comes and i used the toilet. At first, i gave up and even was talking to my wife about it the whole morning, that i should just flush it out since i feel disgusting trying to dig in my poop for A CROWN...

(And believe me whem i say this, IT AIN'T MY FIRST TIME. The first time was that i didn't find my crown after digging in my poop or my vomit.)

But then, i decided why not give it a try. So i started digging in. And guess what i found? That's right! My very own crown. So, now i AM currently in the process of cleaning it and tryinna dissinfect it with whatever ----- ("is" - edit Admin) necessary.

In conclussion, don't lose hope. Check every time you move bowels and dig in there like you're trying to look for gold. It is there.

Lolz!

Joshua

That is good news, congratulations. It should work out that you've saved yourself a fair amount of time and money.

FYI: We do discuss the disinfection of recovered crowns above on this page.

LK

This section of this page gives some additional examples and an idea of what to expect. By our count, you're 1.5 days into a situation that may take several.

Also as our text mentions, food only provides a crude measurement about what's going on. Meals and swallowed crowns don't always pass at the same rate. So at this point, a crown that's known to have been swallowed and is passing wouldn't be terribly overdue and there's no reason not to keep looking.

Good luck. Just keep in mind how much you're "earning" per hour if you do find it and therefore don't have to have a new crown made.

question

Thank you!

Still inside of me!

I posted a couple of weeks ago. It has now been TWENTY DAYS since I swallowed the crown. I have had 2 xrays and they have confimed it is stuck near the top of my colon. This is despite the fact that I am very regular (going every single day). So first question: should they be doing a procedure to remove it? Second, if they do not, can it cause long term issues? Finally, if they do remove it or if I am able to pass it as this stage, will it still be a viable option to re-use (it is gold)?

LK

It's certainly disappointing to hear that your crown didn't just pass uneventfully.

Here's an article that contains a flow chart showing the different solutions that may be needed with swallowed dental objects.

As far as what to do and when, you'll simply need to defer to the judgment of the doctors familiar with your case. Only they can decide.

As for the crown itself, if it simply came off your tooth and was swallowed, there would be every expectation that it would remain undamaged from this episode and could be used again.

However, if the tooth shifts position because it doesn't have a crown on it, that event might make the crown unusable. (That's why this page mentions having a temporary crown placed.)

Or if the crown came off related to some type of tooth-to-crown issue (complications with tooth decay, the tooth broke, etc...) even though the crown is undamaged, it may not be suitable for use with your tooth any more. (After examining your tooth, your dentist should have a pretty fair idea of what transpired.)

Good luck. Hopefully this will be over for you soon and remedied easily

Dentist dropped crown down my throat

Trying to post again as the pop up adds keep kicking me off the page. My dentist dropped my permanent crown down my throat on Monday when he attempted to cement it in place ( I blame the assistant who has been very unhelpful every time I’m in his office). They installed a temp crown and I’m looking for the crown to pass but haven’t seen it thus far. I have a lot of digestive issues as it is. My question is, should I get X-rays done or continue to wait to see if I pass it? I have a lot of adhesions in my intestines so it could be really bad if it gets stuck. I hope to hear back and thank you for your help.

Karen

Sorry to hear about your and your dentist's bad luck.

At its face, "I have a lot of adhesions" isn't much information to go by. That somewhat implies you have had intestinal blockage problems before a therefore there might a MD who treated you during those situations who might be able to provide an informed opinion about what could be anticipated and indicated.

Our "flow chart" link in the comment above can give you an idea of how objects lost from the oral cavity tend to be handled. Any way in which your situation varies from what it suggests is the norm would certainly be of concern in light of your condition. Best of luck.

My "crown recovery" adventure.......

So Here's my "crown recovery" adventure.......
I swallowed my tiny crown off a front tooth Dec 14 2019 - OUCH!!!
Now what? I searched the net for some direction - nope upchucking didn't work - all I did was gag alot, - I had to become the "poop patrol inspector" or as some called it the "sh*t picker" lots of ideas out there.
After reading many of the suggestions I decided to try it my way. I ate a little corn every other day to create a maker as it mostly stays whole to the exit. I have a portable sits bath ($12.00 at walmart) The sitz bath fits great - lift the toilet lid n seat and place the zitz right on the toilet rim. Try to pee separate from pooping in the zitz bath.
I put toilet tissue on the bottom of the sitz, pooped every day and covered w/ a little more toilet tissue - I let it stay for at least an hr. during which time much of the moisture in the poop was absorbed into the tissues. I wore rubber gloves all the time. I placed the poop in a clear plastic bag and pressed gently to flatten it and search for my crown. It worked great with no mess. Keeping in mind that this crown was very small (smaller than a small corn kernel) Checked every poop elimination. It took 21 days till Jan 3 2020 to FINALLY it appeared in my "poop search"
Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh almost $500. saved by having the crown in hand.
I cleaned it well, used a small tooth brush and mild bleach n water to scrub n clean, rinsed well and sprayed with alcohol (we always did when I worked in a dentist office) Let it dry, sprayed a little more and placed back on the post with a drop of temp crown adhesive... then made a dentist appointment to have put in properly. In the end, ALL tuned out OK.
NOTE: I always sleep on my left side. After about 18 days of no luck I thought maybe I better sleep on my right side, just in case it got stuck somewhere. I do feel that it was the start of my crown heading out of poop shoot. I would suggest right from the start alternate sides that u sleep on, have patience n allow several weeks for the elimination, especially if it's a tiny item. ALSO keep a sense of humor about it - don't let others opinions get in the way of your search n recovery.
BTW remember keeping poop separate from pee led to no or very little odor to deal with... GOOD n SPEEDY LUCK whenever u have to to be a "poop patroler" - a pet pooper scooper might be helpful too.

Shovked

So it happened to me, i swallowed my crown of molar tooth and got so worried coz i swallowed it i felt starnge in my mouth . I immediately started to vomit so it might come out but no luck. I was exhausted and tited and started researching online. I am glad i found this article and gave me courage to start lookking for it in my bowel movements. So i looked for it and by next day ( my 3rd poop) it came out. I was so happy as this loterally saved $1000. I have an idea of molar crown to be an average cheap would be of $1000 and didnt want to risk my root canal also.
I would suggest that do not get discouraged if you dont find it in next day. Procedure kinda disgusting but would be worth it.

"crown recoverd"

Shovked - happy to hear you had speedy "crown found" success :)

10 days.... nothing

This is my method. I place a trash bag around a plastic tray and pee and poop in the tray. Then I remove the bag from the tray with the contents inside. The pee dissolves the poop as you squish the bag and you are left with a bag full of liquid. I form the bag into a cone shape, pointy side down... so anything like a crown will settle to the bottom of the point. After 10 days... NOTHING! There is no way I've missed it. I guess I'll keep going. I have large teeth.. It's impossible I've missed it.... it's depressing. Yes, I tried to throw it up, that didn't work either. :(

Swallowed Dental Crown

Just like to say these articles are great. I swallowed my crown while out to dinner and a few drinks. It had the full post etc.. so looking at 2k to replace. Like many who did it, I checked my poop day after day. I know I was moving things through within 24 hrs so I was giving up hope. 2 weeks to the day, guess what, last try of checking things and there it was, perfect, well a little poopy, but there it was. So that was 2 weeks. Give it time and be patient. If you're sure it didn't flush it will eventually show up.

Swallowed crown.

It was an emotional experience at best. I swallowed a front tooth that I knew was loose, and had been unable to get fixed. While I was eating a soft baked potato I thought, 'uh oh, something's wrong.' Sure enough I had swallowed my crown. I've never tried to induce vomiting before, unless you count the time I was six years old and my older brother convinced me to eat the mushrooms growing in the back yard (it was my parents who helped me throw those up...). I did not get the tooth, but it sure made my muscles sore. It took three and a half days of carefully inspecting each poo, before joy upon joy there appeared in the murky water my crown in the royal throne! Held lovingly in my glove clad hand I carried it to a safe place, deposited it into some peroxide while I fired up my steam machine. After steaming the debris, and giving it an after scrub with tooth paste, I was able to return it to it's former glory. Praise the Lord!

* Comments marked with an asterisk, along with their associated replies, have either been edited for brevity/clarity, or have been moved to a page that's better aligned with their subject matter, or both. If relocated, the comment and its replies retain their original datestamps, which may affect the chronology of the page's comments section.


Add new comment

Comments (especially personal narratives) that don't contribute to the learning/teaching intent of our pages will be deleted. Comments that don't relate to the subject of the page they are posted on especially well will be moved to a more appropriate one, or deleted, after a few days.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Please answer the question so we know you're a human.
Feedback