- Special Sections
- Public Notices
Q: I would like to know, how long should I expect a crown to last? I had a crown done on the second tooth from the left back on the bottom in December 2011 and just a couple of days ago a big chunk of it broke off. At the time of the procedure, I was told I would also have to get a root canal and that was done shortly after the crown. The broken-off part is close to the root canal material and is almost one whole side of the tooth.
At the time of the crown, the dental assistant did not properly clean the glue off my tooth and I suffered with a razor-sharp edge cutting my tongue and into my gums for a week as I was told I would have to wait to see the dentist again. My tongue was so swollen during this time, I could not talk or eat or swallow without major pain. When I did see him, he acted like this was no big deal, never apologized and cleaned most of the glue off, but I don’t feel it was ever OK. I think glue was still stuck in the gum line.
The area of the gums below that tooth has hurt for over a year. I have told the dentist that something is wrong on a few occasions, but he acted like I was making something out of nothing because I am a fearful patient. He and the assistant made fun of me because I cried in the chair (I was having a panic attack). He has maintained nothing is wrong with my tooth or gums, but I know better.
During the year after this crown, I went for a cleaning twice. The lady pulled a little tiny bit of something out of my gums each time, when I directed her to the pain. She was the only one who listened to me or apologized for any of this.
Now part of the crown has broken off. I feel that crown was not put in correctly and the glue issue has contributed to the crown being unstable and breaking up. I do not want to go to this dentist again but I do want to ask for my $ 1,200 back for the crown. Do I have the right to do that? Shouldn’t this tooth last longer than 14 months? I feel that they have put me through so much unnecessary pain and suffering. I do not want to go to any dentist now — I don’t want to go through any of this ever again. I was a fearful patient to begin with and now I am terrified.
I appreciate your column and read it every week, so I hope you will give me some advice on this subject.
A: This is a very unfortunate situation for you. It is too bad that you have turned from a fearful patient to a terrified one as a result of this. As you are probably aware, there is no way for me to know exactly what went on unless I see you. Even then, I may not be able to be sure of the reasons for what happened. What I can tell you is that most dentists will be able to assess the situation at hand and offer you some solutions. It seems as though you will not be able to, nor do you want to go back to the dentist who made the crown in the first place, so my suggestion is that you get a second opinion.
You might be comforted in knowing that in all probability the piece that broke off of the crown was a piece of porcelain. If this is the case, the integrity of the crown is still intact and decay is unlikely to start. This, of course, is assuming that the crown fit the tooth properly in the first place (this can be assessed with the second opinion I suggested). As for your question regarding how long a crown should last — I usually tell patients that between 5 and 7 years is acceptable, though most dentists would expect them to last longer. As you might suspect, this timeframe applies only if things were done properly and there is proper home care and dental care via your dental office.
You mentioned getting your money back from the dentist. If you felt that strongly about the situation I would suggest you make an appointment to sit down with the dentist and have what I would call a “heart to heart” conversation about the situation. I have found most people in life to be reasonable when things like this happen, and I truly believe that when discussed properly issues like this can be resolved. I truly hope things work out for you.
Dr. Frank Vascimini is a dentist practicing in Homosassa. Send your questions to 4805 S. Suncoast Blvd., Homosassa, FL 34446 or email them to info@MasterpieceDentalStudio.com.