How to Recover a Swallowed Dental Crown

By Glenda Taylor

Dental crowns are not only necessary for a beautiful smile. If they're on a back tooth they provide a surface with which to chew food, which is an important daily function. Unfortunately, dental crowns are expensive, so losing one would be a major pain. How does one lose a dental crown? Dental patients often tend to swallow a temporary crown, since the adhesive used to hold it in place is more likely to fail and the crown may be dislodged while chewing a mouthful of food and swallowed before you know it's missing. Less frequently, this happens with permanent crowns but when it does, you can recover the crown and have it reattached.

You can recover a swallowed dental crown.
credit: golubovy/iStock/GettyImages
You can recover a swallowed dental crown.

Step 1

Call your family dentist and tell him what happened. Because all swallowed non-digestible items must pass through the digestive tract, he may choose to take an X-ray to determine the path of the crown and make sure it's passing through normally.

Step 2

Eat a normal diet but add a little soluble fiber if you experience constipation. It may take up to one week for the dental crown to pass through your digestive system. During this time, you want to make it as easy as possible for it to slip through unhindered. Soluble fiber (like Metamucil) will soften your stool and may speed the recovery process along.

Step 3

Switch from your commode to a large sturdy plastic bucket for bowel movements. It's imperative that you only use a very strong bucket that will safely hold your weight without too much discomfort. Alternately, some people find it easier to defecate on newspapers spread out on the bathroom floor. Choose whatever method is more comfortable for you.

Step 4

Collect your stool starting with the very next movement. While it's unlikely that your dental crown will pass through your system before a minimum of 12 hours, you can't afford to take a chance if you swallowed a permanent crown that will cost hundreds of dollars to replace. According to AtlantaDentist.com, it should pass through your system within one week.

Step 5

Use two disposable plastic knifes to smash and cut through each bowel movement, making sure not to leave any large chunks where the crown could be hiding.

Step 6

Wash the crown in a household bleach solution once you find it, using an old toothbrush to carefully scrub any remaining debris from the outside and the inside of the crown.

Step 7

Make an appointment for your dentist to reapply the crown. At your appointment, your dentist will sterilize the crown and use new adhesive to reattach it.