As far as dental mishaps go, a chipped tooth generally isn't a reason to panic. If it goes untreated, a chipped tooth can be the beginning of the end for the tooth in question. However, this isn't something that happens overnight, so it's just a question of seeing your dentist as soon as possible to have the chip repaired. What about when the chipped tooth isn't an entirely natural tooth? Just like natural teeth, dental crowns can become chipped. How is this particular problem solved?
Patching the Chip
The solution depends on the severity of the problem. A minor chip on a dental crown can be repaired without the need to remove the crown. Your dentist simply replaces the missing section with composite dental resin, color-matched to the rest of the crown. The resin is applied, shaped, and then light-cured so that it instantly hardens. This is all that's needed for small chips.
Not Always Permanent
The restoration will be monitored during your regular dental checkups. For some patients, the composite resin can create a small weak spot on the crown, and the ongoing bite pressure that the crown is subjected to can mean that the composite reason restoration won't offer a permanent solution. If this happens to you, the entire crown will be replaced.
A Severely Chipped Crown
A more extensive chip that irreparably weakens the crown cannot be patched up. This is usually immediately obvious for your dentist. Your dentist will gently tug at the crown until the cement bonding it into place weakens, and eventually releases its grip. The broken crown is then removed and discarded. A replacement crown will be manufactured and fitted.
The Underlying Tooth
Your dentist will ask you if you're aware of what caused the damage to your dental crown. It may have just been regular wear and tear, or you might have had an accident that caused blunt force trauma to the tooth. When there's a possibility that both the crown and the underlying tooth may have sustained some damage, the crown will be removed. This allows your dentist to inspect the underlying tooth for any fractures or other damage. If present, this damage will be repaired before the crown is reattached.
Just like when a natural tooth is chipped, a chipped dental crown isn't a reason to panic, but it needs to be assessed by your dentist as soon as you can manage. Minor chips can be patched up, but more extensive damage involves the crown being replaced. Contact a local dentist if you need help with a dental crown.