Dentist closed due to covid-19. Should I pay twice for a crown?
March 26, 2020 6:40 AM   Subscribe

I was in the middle of getting a crown replaced on my incisor, when I had to reschedule due to having covid-19. I've recovered, but now the dental office is closed indefinitely due to the virus. I currently have a temporary crown on my front tooth that I am worried has outlived it's life. Since I don't know when or if the dentist will open, I am considering going to a different practice and paying again to have another crown made and applied. The idea of paying twice is stopping me though. Should I just get over the expense and do it?

Insurance covered part of the cost originally. It unimaginable that they would cover the same procedure twice from two different dentists. Additionally, I am now concerned that anywhere I go may close, and I would be left paying for a third attempt. I wouldn't consider paying twice for something normally, but since a front tooth serves both functional and aesthetic purposes, I have to consider it.
posted by polywomp to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If it's just a "worry" that it's outlived its life and not actually a problem, yet, I would try to communicate with the original dentist about planning and advice.

It's possible they might come in to handle this on a one-off basis. If you've already had COVID-19 and recovered, then they may be less concerned about transmission. It's possible they will schedule you as soon as they re-open.

Since everybody is supposed to be social distancing, the aesthetic concerns are minor. If you can still eat without pain and it's not coming loose, etc., then I would hold out.
posted by jzb at 6:48 AM on March 26 [2 favorites]

Temporaries can last for years. I wouldn't fret if it's not actually failing in some perceptible way.
posted by jon1270 at 6:48 AM on March 26 [20 favorites]

Dentists in many places have been advised to not work on anything but emergencies, and in some places, only when they have access to appropriate conditions (negative pressure room, N95). Don’t go to a dentist operating in anything other than those conditions.

Also, there was a conference attended by 15k North American dentists - as of a few days ago, one died and 35 were confirmed infected (and remember, hardly anyone is being tested, in both the US and Canada).
posted by cotton dress sock at 6:57 AM on March 26

You should not be trying to go to the dentist right now--that's among the highest risk locations for viral transmission.

The best step here is to talk to your dentist's office you've been working with--knowing that it might take some time for them to get back to you--and ask what they recommend, in terms of timeline.

I'm an epidemiologist, and dentists are very aware of their risk level. It's unlikely that a dentist's office would take you on as a new patient without (1) an extreme urgency or (2) some possibly unscrupulous business practices. Put another way, I wouldn't go to any non-emergency dentist who would have me right now.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 7:20 AM on March 26 [2 favorites]

The dentist is closed indefinitely. They do not have a timeline or recommendations, other than over the counter tooth cement is available in case the crown comes off. It seems as if the temp may last through the pandemic, but it might not also.
posted by polywomp at 7:31 AM on March 26

My "temporary" crown lasted 12 years, so this may not even be a problem! I would steer clear of any dentist's office right now unless it's a true emergency.
posted by whitewall at 8:05 AM on March 26 [2 favorites]

Contact the dental office, someone is probably checking email and mail. If they have the crown, they should be able to get it to you by dropping it off in your mailbox, or leaving it in theirs, or some other safe spot.

My ex had a temp crown that came off while we were overseas. The dentist recommended superglue. It held for 6 months.
posted by theora55 at 8:08 AM on March 26

(if the temp comes off please DO NOT use superglue. Temporary cement meant for teeth from the drugstore or even denture adhesive cream used in a pinch is best. Superglue is not meant for teeth and will damage your tooth! speaking as an ex-dental assistant who saw too many diy dental emergencies)
posted by tipsyBumblebee at 8:32 AM on March 26 [3 favorites]

Other dentists probably aren't open either. They shouldn't be.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:36 AM on March 26 [1 favorite]

Not sure about this, but: I think temporary crowns might be a little more fragile than permanent ones, so, you know, don't engage in any tooth sports or super taxing biting.
posted by amtho at 8:56 AM on March 26

My temporary crown is approx 20 years old. Clearly that is too long, but until this question I had forgotten that it was even temporary. It's much more likely to be fine than not, and I would worry about something else until the dentist's office reopens.
posted by plonkee at 1:10 PM on March 26

Nthing to just wait it out with the temporary crown.

Temporary crowns are more prone to falling out tho, so I'd avoid overly chewy or sticky foods around that tooth (e.g. caramel, gum, taffy, etc.). I've had a temporary crown pop out due to this and the dentist said to just pop it back in and didn't move my appointment or anything, so I assume you can do the same if it does. Also, I've had a dentist offer to hold off on a permanent crown until the next year for insurance purposes, so I have no reason to doubt that the durability of the temporary crown should last you through the crisis.

If the crown does pop off and get lost, or gets broken, that would likely qualify as an emergency procedure that a dentist would handle even with COVID being a thing.
posted by Aleyn at 9:39 PM on March 26

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