When a tooth is in need of a dental crown, several steps are required to complete the process. The tooth is usually numbed and trimmed to a smaller size. An impression, or mold, is taken and sent to a dental laboratory. The dentist then makes a temporary crown, and cements it over the prepared tooth. In a few weeks, the patient comes back and the dentist removes the temporary crown and cements the permanent crown over the tooth.
A permanent crown is important because it both rebuilds and protects the tooth for many years. The temporary crown is also important, but for different reasons. The temporary crown is essential for comfort, appearance and to maintain the position of the adjacent teeth for the permanent crown.
When a tooth is shaped for a crown, the more sensitive areas of the tooth are usually exposed. The temporary crown acts as a "blanket" for the tooth, insulating it from hot and cold foods and drinks. The temporary crown is also needed to help maintain the appearance of the tooth while the permanent crown is being made. A trimmed tooth can be unattractive without the temporary, especially if the tooth is near the front of the mouth. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the temporary crown holds the position of the tooth while the permanent crown is being finished.
If a temporary crown comes out prematurely, the adjacent teeth can shift and the gums can begin to grow over the prepared edges of the shaped tooth. This makes fitting the permanent crown difficult and uncomfortable for the patient. Most people are surprised to learn that having the temporary crown out for only a few days can cause some or all of these teeth problems. I should also note that what holds true for a temporary single crown, applies for a temporary fixed dental bridge (a series of joined crowns) as well.
If a temporary crown comes off your tooth, you should call your dentist immediately. If you cannot get to see your dentist for a few days, you may be able to pick up some temporary cement or a denture adhesive like Fixodent® at the drug store and glue the temporary back on. Just remember to bring your temporary crown with you when you see your dentist, and whatever you do, please don't throw it out!
Remember, only a dentist can diagnose your dental problems and offer the right treatment plan for you. If you need a dentist, call us at 1-866-970-0441 to be connected with one today.