woman with a temporary crown smiling

Why Do I Need A Temporary Crown?

Even if a tooth is slated for a crown, dentists need to protect it while the permanent crown is being made and delivered to the dental office in two to three weeks. And although the color of a temporary crown might not match that of the natural tooth, patients can often continue to eat and speak normally during this interim period.

Temporary cement is used to fix these crowns so that they are easy to remove later. Here's why you might need one.

Dental Crowns

According to Cleveland Clinic, dentists fit temporary crowns at the first of two appointments. During this visit, the dentist takes an x-ray of the problem area and treats any lingering decay. To make room for the permanent crown, the natural tooth is filed down over the sides and top. The dentist then takes an impression of the filed tooth – as well as those above and below it – and sends these impressions to a dental laboratory for the creation of a permanent crown. Because this can take two to three weeks, he or she places the temporary crown onto the tooth to protect it until the next visit.

At the second and final visit to the clinic, when the permanent crown has arrived, the dentist removes the temporary crown and fits the permanent crown in its place.

Caring for Temporary Crowns

Normal brushing with a fluoride toothpaste actually helps to care for temporary crowns just like normal teeth. A toothpaste that can help is Colgate TotalSF Clean Mint where its fluoride formula strengthens teeth to help prevent cavities. MIT Medical offers similar advice: Immediately after the crown is fitted, don't eat for 30 minutes, while the cement sets. Sticky foods might pull temporary crowns off the teeth, so these should be avoided as well. If the crown does come off, the patient can fix it back in place with personal denture cement until he sees the dentist again.

It's important not to leave a temporary crown out of the mouth for long periods of time either, because teeth can move – which makes fitting the permanent crown difficult.

Having temporary crowns fitted is nothing to worry about. On the contrary, without their protection, natural teeth are exposed to decay and changes in position. Treat a temporary crown carefully while waiting for a permanent crown to arrive, and it shouldn't cause you any problems.

Learn more about the types of dental crowns in the Colgate Oral Care resources.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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