When you need a dental crown placed on a tooth, you may first receive a temporary crown before your permanent crown arrives. These crowns are meant to protect your tooth for a short period of time, but how long does a temporary crown last? Here is what you need to know about temporary crowns.
Dental crowns are tooth-shaped “caps” that fit over a tooth and give it a new exterior. These crowns are made from metals, ceramic, porcelain, or a combination of materials. Most dental crowns are made in a dental lab, which can take a few weeks. This is why a temporary crown is needed.
Dental crowns are usually put over a tooth that is damaged, such as a broken tooth or a tooth that had root canal therapy. Dental crowns are also used to secure dental bridges. The tooth is reduced in size and a mold is made of the tooth to make a crown – both a temporary and permanent crown.
What to Expect When You Receive a Temporary Crown
Once your tooth is reshaped and a mold is made, either an impression or a digital mold, a temporary crown will be made at the dentist’s office. To achieve this, the traditional procedure is to create an impression of the tooth. This includes:
- Placing a string around the tooth to push back the gums to create a complete impression
- The tooth is cleaned and dried
- A tray with molding “putty” is placed in the mouth
- Patients bite down on the tray to allow the mold to form
- The mold is removed
This mold will make the temporary crown and it will also be sent to the dental lab. The temporary crown can be made in less than a half hour in most cases. These crowns are typically made from an acrylic material that is color-matched to your teeth, but they can also be made from metal.
Once the temporary crown is made, it is put over the prepared tooth. The dental assistant and dentist make sure the temporary crown fits correctly with the other teeth – it may need to be altered to ensure a comfortable bite. When it fits properly, it is bonded to the tooth with temporary cement.
How Long Should You Wear a Temporary Crown?
When a temporary crown is placed, it is not meant to be long-lasting. It is only meant to protect the tooth until the permanent crown arrives from the dental lab. How long does a temporary crown last after a root canal or other dental treatment?
The temporary crown should last at least until the new crown is completed, which is usually less than three weeks. The crown itself could last longer, but the cement that holds it in place will not. Eventually, the cement washes away and the crown could come loose or even pop off the tooth.
To make sure a temporary crown lasts, you should follow these guidelines:
- Avoid sticky, chewy, or crunchy foods that could damage the temporary crown
- Brush and floss as normal, but pull the floss through the teeth next to the crown – do not push the floss down or pull it up
- Be careful of hot or cold foods – your tooth may be sensitive to temperature until it receives the permanent crown
If you are careful, your temporary crown should easily last until the permanent crown arrives, which can be anywhere from a few days to three weeks.
What Happens If a Temporary Crown Left on Too Long?
Temporary crowns are not meant to be worn long-term. It is vital to receive the permanent crown as soon as it is ready. The sealant around the temporary crown will wear away and put the tooth in jeopardy.
If a temporary crown is left on too long, it can result in the risk of tooth damage, decay, and infection. Bacteria can get under the crown and cause many problems. If it has been over three weeks since you received your temporary crown, you should contact your dentist for instructions.
What If a Temporary Dental Crown Falls Off?
Although it is rare, a temporary can come off, especially if you eat sticky or chewy foods or floss in an up-and-down motion. Since the cement used is not meant to be permanent, it is possible for it to wear away too soon. If a temporary crown comes off, follow these tips:
- Try to press the crown back on the tooth
- If the crown is lost, you can use DIY tooth repair kits to cover the tooth
- Call your dentist right away – you should not leave your tooth unprotected
How long does a temporary crown last after a root canal or other dental treatment? Most temporary crowns should not be worn for more than three weeks – just until the permanent crown arrives. Talk to your dentist about what to expect and how to care for your temporary crown.
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