Crowns, also called caps, are tooth-shaped restorations that may be placed over a tooth for a variety of reasons. Usually, they repair teeth that are broken or badly decayed, but they can also improve the appearance of discolored or misshapen teeth. Getting a crown generally requires two dental appointments. At your first appointment, you'll receive a temporary crown that will remain in place until the second appointment when the permanent crown is delivered to the dental office by the dental laboratory.
Purpose of Temporary Crowns
Because a crown fits over the top of your tooth, your dentist will need to prepare the tooth to make room for the crown. This involves filing down your enamel to make the tooth smaller. Your dentist will then take an impression of the prepared tooth, and a dental laboratory will use the mold to create your permanent crown.
Some of your tooth's structure is removed to make room for the permanent crown, so a temporary one is used to protect it in the meantime. Your tooth maybe painful or sensitive without the temporary crown, but once it's in place, you shouldn't feel any discomfort at all.
Lifespan of Temporary Crowns
Temporary crowns aren't meant to last for a long time; they're designed to protect your tooth while a permanent crown is created. Temporary crowns are held in place with temporary cement so that your dentist can remove them easily. The temporary cement is not secure enough to be a long-term option, as it holds the temporary crown in place for up to one year. Permanent crowns, on the other hand, last for at least seven years or more.
Temporary crowns are also made of acrylic resin, while permanent crowns are made of stronger materials like ceramic, metal or porcelain fused to metal. For these reasons, it's important to return to your dentist's office to receive your permanent crown when it's ready. Your dentist will let you know when you need to return for this appointment.
Caring for Temporary Crowns
Your dentist will give you care instructions for the temporary crown at your first appointment. Be sure to follow these instructions closely to avoid damaging or dislodging your crown. Try to chew on the opposite side of your mouth to protect the crown. Avoid eating sticky foods that could dislodge the crown, like gummy candies and toffee.
Brushing and flossing are also very important. While a temporary crown protects the tooth underneath from tooth decay, cavities could still develop along the gumline. Poor oral hygiene may result in gum disease, so remember to brush twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush and a toothpaste like Colgate Total Daily Repair, which strengthens teeth by remineralizing weakened enamel. When you floss, gently slide the floss out instead of lifting it up. The U.S. National Library of Medicine explains that lifting the floss could pull off your crown.
A temporary crown protects your teeth while your dentist has your permanent crown manufactured. Since it isn't made to last forever, be gentle with the temporary crown to keep your mouth healthy and pain-free.