Should the Emergency Dentist Repair the Crown He Broke?

Elgin Emergency Dentist sign

I had to go see an emergency dentist two weeks ago because I had a very bad abscess and my regular office was closed. I’m no stranger to dental work… I have eight crowns, among other things, so I wasn’t incredibly surprised when one of my back teeth developed a bad infection seemingly overnight. I knew right away that the tooth would probably need a root canal or would have to be pulled, and that’s exactly what the doctor said when I went in. I opted to have it pulled for financial reasons. However, during the procedure, he either hit one of my crowns with one of his tools or applied pressure and it broke. The metal is there, but a whole bunch of the white part came off. He told me I’d have to see my regular office to have it repaired. I went into my regular office and the doctor said I needed a new crown, then quoted me at nearly $1,000. I don’t understand. Shouldn’t the doctor who broke it pay for it or fix it himself? It doesn’t seem right that I should be the one to have to pay for the damage if it’s his fault.



Dear Renee,

These situations are somewhat rare, but when they do occur, it’s common for the doctor to do exactly what you suggest- either repair it himself or pay for it to be repaired. If you saw an oral surgeon, it would make more sense for him to send you back to your doctor for the work, but if you saw a general Elgin dentist who works as an emergency dentist too, it could go either way.

With that said, crowns cannot be fixed. The white part that broke off is porcelain, which is baked on in layers when a crown is made. You’d actually have to have the old crown removed and replaced with a new one.

How to Follow Up with the Emergency Dentist

Let’s try to give this guy the benefit of doubt at this point. It’s possible he does intend to make things right, but paperwork got lost in the shuffle or the person who was supposed to tell your office to send the bill to them spaced it. Start by calling them and asking if they intend to foot the bill. If they don’t, you can talk to your regular office and see if they’re willing to be a liaison and make the request on your behalf.

If the office refuses to pay and you don’t get anywhere with trying to get the offices to work it out between each other, then you may have to decide whether it’s worth fighting for. Generally speaking, doctors have you sign away your right to sue over this kind of thing, but it would be something you could approach a lawyer or the board about. It’s highly unlikely it would come to that. Most dentists feel a moral and ethical responsibility to correct issues even when a law might otherwise protect them, and even failing that, it’s far cheaper for him to pay for a new crown than it would be to hurt his reputation or start a legal battle over something so minor. The reality is this could have happened to any doctor, and there’s even a possibility the crown was fractured before you went in for treatment, but iif he’s an honest, ethical, upstanding guy, he will make it right regardless.

This blog is sponsored by Elgin emergency dentist Dr. Steve Sirin.

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