Why and When You Need Temporary Crowns
Temporary dental crowns, known as "provisional crowns" in the dentistry world, are used in the preparation period for a traditional dental crown, according to David Allen, DMD, of W. David Allen Dentistry in Athens, GA. "You wear a temporary crown to protect the tooth in interim stage before you get a permanent crown," he says.
The lifespan of a temporary dental crown depends on how well it's made, but can sometimes last up to six months. The life of a temporary crown may also depend on your overall oral health. You may keep the temporary crown while your dentist decides the next treatment steps.
Uses for Temporary Crowns
Temporary crowns are typically used when:
- A filling procedure calls for more than just one appointment, such as indirect fillings, which contain composite materials
- The tooth's nerve pulp becomes irritated and the nerve needs to calm down
- An emergency dental procedure is needed
- The patient just had a root canal
However, these temporary fillings often fall out or fracture over time, and a person's tooth can become infected if not replaced by a permanent one.
Temporary Crowns for Cosmetic Reasons
Temporary crowns can be beneficial when you need significant reconstruction. "Say, if all your front teeth were banged up, they all need crowns or you have crowns someone did 10 years ago you want replaced," Allen says, "and I was redoing your smile and your bite, then I would provide a provisional [temporary] crown."
Temporary crowns give the patient an opportunity to decide if they are ready for the permanent change. “It's a big investment and you have to make sure you like the color, shape and the aesthetics,” says Allen, who makes sure to work with his patients until they are satisfied with the appearance of the temporary crowns.
"I adjust the acrylic, so once I get them to where you like them, then we'll say, 'Let's make the permanent ones just like these,'" he says. "It may be four weeks, or it may be a year."
Once the patient is happy with the temporary crown and the fit and color of the new permanent crown is complete and acceptable, it will be cemented into place.
How To Take Care of Your Temporary Crown:
Dentists will often suggest certain precautions for patients to take while wearing temporary crowns, including:
- Do not eat sticky or chewy foods, like chewing gum or caramel. These foods can actually pull off the temporary crown.
- Do not chew on hard foods, such as carrots or other raw veggies. They can break the temporary crown.
- When cleaning teeth, try sliding floss out instead of lifting it out, which may pull off the temporary crown.
- Try not to use the side of your mouth with the temporary crown. Try to chew most of your food on the opposite side.