How to Recover a Swallowed Dental Crown

Dental crowns are not only necessary for a beautiful smile, if they are on a back tooth they provide a surface with which to chew food. Dental crowns are expensive. There are two types of crowns, temporary and permanent. Dental patients more 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. Dental crowns or restorations may be inhaled or swallowed by the patient during chewing food, sleeping, laughing or yawning or may be during some accident. Patient should be told not to get panic and stay calm if he/she has swallowed a dental crown.

Inhaled crown seen on chest x ray

Inhaled crown may cause coughing, dysphagia or pain. Prosthesis may get lodged in the tonsils or pharynx and may cause infection. If there is any complication due to swallowing of dental crown, then an ENT specialist may also be consulted.  For recovering the dental crown which is swallowed by the patient accidentally, there are 3 alternatives.

1.    Patient can make himself throw up and can see whether the dental crown comes out or not.
2.    Patient can recover the swallowed dental crown from the bowel movements.
3.    Patient can get a new dental crown made from his dentist.


Things You’ll Need:

  • Soluble fiber (optional)
  • Large sturdy plastic bucket
  • Plastic disposable knives
  • Old toothbrush
  • Household bleach
  • Old newspapers

Regurgitation of Contents of Stomach

Try to regurgitate the contents of the stomach into a bucket

Dental crowns are quite a lot expensive and patient can make an effort to recover the swallowed dental crown. Making an attempt to recover the swallowed dental crown also makes financial sense.  Patient can throw up in a dishpan or a container and should not throw up in sink. If it is thrown in sink, then it may drain. If the crown is recovered, then it should be cleaned with household bleach.  (1:10 dilution of household bleach)

If swallowed dental crown is causing breathing difficulty problem and is not removed by coughing, then doctor should be consulted in this case.  Tracheotomy or cricothyriodotomy may also be required to remove the crown which is inhaled.

Recovering Swallowed Dental Crowns in Stools

Call your family doctor and tell him what happened. Because all swallowed nondigestible 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. Dentist may give you temporary crown to wear by the time the patient retrieves his swallowed crown.

Disinfect the recovered crown with household bleach

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, and 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.

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.4

Collect your bowel movements 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, it should pass through your system within one week.

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.

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.

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.

New Dental Crown

If the dental crown which is swallowed is not recovered, then the patient can get a new dental crown made for him. Patient will have to spend his time and money to get a new crown made. If the dental crown is not recovered and patient experiences some difficulties, then he can visit a dentist. Patient can report about his experiences and findings to his dentist. The dentist can evaluate the situation of the patient and may tell the patient to get x-rays done to make appropriate diagnosis or may give some treatment recommendations. Crown or the prosthesis will appear radio opaque on the x-rays and may be demonstrated by barium swallow.  If the patient experiences lot of coughing after swallowing the dental crown, then there is a rare possibility that the dental crown has entered into the airways and lungs. Family doctor should be contacted by the patient in such a case. If patient experiences pain in the abdomen due to settling of dental crown in abdomen, then laparotomy may also be required. Most of the time dental crown or other prosthesis if swallowed will pass normally. Surgical intervention is rarely required.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you feel your dentist was at fault by not attaching the crown correctly in the first place, call him and ask about a replacement crown at his expense.