I had a root canal done three months ago and a porcelain crown. Well, last night the crown came off and ended up breaking completely off the post. Is there anything that can be done? I can’t believe it’s only been a few months since the work was done. Is the dentist responsible for something like this? I’m freaking out because I feel helpless right now!
-Jake in New Hampshire
This is an unfortunate situation. It is difficult to give you specific recommendations without having more information or seeing your case. However, from what you have described, it sounds like the crown may have broke off at the gumline. This is of course speculation. But, based on what you said, if the crown came off and the post is broken, there is a good possibility that your tooth is also broken. If these assumptions are correct, you are in a tough spot. There probably wasn’t a lot of your natural tooth left to start with. Also, if the crown and post have failed, there is a good chance that the tooth is not salvageable.
Now, it is possible that the post was weak. That would be the best case scenario. If that was the case, the post was weak and can be redone.
There are some patients that have a condition that is referred to as “gorilla bite” where one bites down with excessive force. Then, after a certain age, the teeth begin to suffer. Patients with gorilla bite tend to break any restoration a dentist puts in their mouth. Now, it sounds like the dentist was trying to do everything possible to save the tooth by doing the root canal treatment in the first place. So, let’s assume he didn’t do anything ill-intentioned. If that is indeed the situation and the treatment only lasted a few months, most dentists will feel obligated to take care of some of the cost to repair or replace it.
To begin, contact your dentist and explain the situation. Be prepared that you will likely require a more extensive treatment plan than originally intended. For example, you may require a dental bridge or the ideal treatment would be a dental implant to replace the tooth. Hopefully, the dentist does the right thing and credits you toward your new treatment plan.
Now, the only way a dentist has legal responsibility is if he or she did something wrong. Based on what you’ve shared, it isn’t clear one way or the other.
Lastly, if you are someone with “gorilla bite”, then you may need a night guard to help protect your new restoration. A night guard is a hard plastic appliance that is worn overnight to protect you from subconscious clenching, biting or grinding.
Hopefully, this gives you some insight into what’s going on here.
This post is sponsored by a Rick Lane, DDS, a dentist in Petlauma.