Dental Implant Crown Broke Off, What To Do?

Written & Reviewed by Dr David Chen

If your implant crown breaks, you will need to see a dentist to have it replaced because it cannot be repaired. However, depending on which tooth it is and how big the chip is, all this condition needs may just be a simple polish.

screw retained dental implant crown

The good news is that it shouldn’t hurt because it’s not your real tooth. It’s just a titanium and ceramic prosthetic so a toothache is not expected. If you still want to ice your face or take some pain medication, please do what makes you feel better.

Can you repair implant crowns?

While it is possible to repair the porcelain on implant crowns, we’ve never seen it last longer than a few months. In other words, after the repair is complete it will shortly succumb to another chip or fracture and you’ll be back at the dentist with the same problem.

How the repair process works

The repair process for the porcelain is similar to getting a filling. Your dentist will bond either composite or another piece of porcelain onto the broken part of your crown.

If you wanted a comparison, the concept would be similar to kintsugi, a Japanese art of mending broken ceramics. After all, your porcelain tooth cap is a ceramic, it’s just that it is a dental ceramic.

broken bowl repaired with kintsugi
kintsugi repaired bowl

Afterwards it should look repaired and fully functional but looks can be deceiving.

Why it doesn’t last

Unfortunately, I’ve never seen these implant crown repairs lasting longer than a handful of months. The repair will look good but the patient usually returns shortly after with the repaired piece broken off once again.

It appears that the bonding of damaged porcelain doesn’t seem to be able to withstand the chewing forces in the mouth. Maybe it’s due to what the patients are eating or shouldn’t be eating but that’s simply based on what I’ve personally seen.

Replacement is the best option

For a broken implant crown, the best long term fix is to replace it with a brand new one. Yes, it will be more expensive than a repair but at least the results will last. The cap has the best structural integrity when it is one piece instead of multiple pieces bonded together.

screw retained vs cement retained implant crown
Credit: Rahul Nagrath, Manesh Lahori, R. Rai, M. Kaur

Depending on what type of implant crown it is, the replacement process will differ.

  • Cement retained crown. These are glued on so there is a chance your dentist may not be able to remove it without damaging it. For these cases, I’ve usually had to cut the crowns off by drilling into them.
  • Screw retained crown. These are the easiest to replace since your dentist simply needs to unscrew them off. This replacement process is the least traumatic.

It may take about 2-3 weeks for the new crown to be made. Basically you’ll need a new implant impression but that’s the easy part. Putting the body fixture into the jaw bone was the hard part.

Polishing may work for specific situations

Alternatively you may be lucky and only need to have the chip on the dental implant crown polished down instead of replacing it. However this will only work if the tooth in question is a back tooth and the chip is very small.

  • Posterior tooth. If you chip a front implant, it can be easily seen when you smile. That means damages to all anterior ones will need to be replaced. Back teeth on the other hand are not as easily visible. It will be more cost effective to simply smooth down the chip instead of replacing it.
  • Small chip. Smoothing down the chip by polishing will only work if the damage is small. Larger chips or fractures will need a full replacement.

What causes it to break?

The crown is usually made of porcelain or from a type of ceramic like zirconia. The crown itself is really no different than a regular dental crown, the only difference is that it goes over an implant instead of your natural tooth. What we’re trying to say is that what can break a regular crown can break your implant crown.

Causes of breakage:

  • Bad habits such as chewing on pens or other objects
  • Eating hard and crunchy foods
  • Chewing on ice cubes
  • Teeth grinding at night
  • Sports injury
  • Auto accidents or falls

Basically, it’s not indestructible so you should try your best to take care of it.

So what should I do?

If the crown breaks you should attempt to collect all of the pieces and bring it to your dentist. Then you can discuss with them about repairing it vs replacing it. If you’re lucky, you may not even need a repair and only need to have it polished down.

If you’re unlucky such as the break being very bad, it’ll need a full replacement. For your information, the cost of a new one would be about $2632.05 without insurance. If you do have insurance, it may cover half of it. Yes, they are expensive but you probably already know that since you paid for it the first time around.


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