Dental crowns are usually custom made in a laboratory, which could take as long as two weeks to complete. In the meantime, your tooth could be overly tender and even painful. If your tooth is cracked or brittle, further damage could occur if it is left uncovered. Temporary crowns cover and protect the teeth until dental crowns are made. They also maintain the position of the adjacent teeth until the permanent crown is placed.
Temporary Crown Procedure
It usually takes two appointments to place a new dental crown for a patient. At the first appointment, the dentist shapes the tooth for the crown, which usually leaves sensitive areas of the tooth exposed. An impression of the tooth is taken and sent to the laboratory to make the permanent crown.
The dentist then uses a weak cement to attach the temporary crown to the tooth. (This allows it to be removed easily when the permanent crown is ready to be placed.) Temporary crowns are typically made of plastic or stainless steel right in your dentist’s office, though they can also be made in advance by the laboratory.
For best results, placing a temporary crown must meet certain requirements.
Requirements of a Temporary Crown:
- It must adequately cover the tooth; otherwise, the tooth could be extremely sensitive to cold, sweets and even air.
- It must be able to meet the opposing tooth, and it must touch the tooth on either side of the one receiving the crown. If this requirement is not met, the tooth will shift and the new crown won’t fit. Essentially, the temporary crown is a placeholder for the missing part of your tooth (and the permanent crown).
The Reason Temporary Crowns Are Temporary
There are good reasons temporary crowns are temporary and should not be worn for extended periods.
- They can be very irritating to the surrounding gums.
- The tooth underneath the temporary crown is not as well protected against saliva and plaque as with a permanent crown and can be more susceptible to cavities.
- They may fall out occasionally.