3 Tips For Taking Care Of Temporary Crowns

Your dentist may decide you need a crown if you have a tooth that needs a root canal, or if the tooth is simply abnormally small or misshapen. Sometimes, crowns are necessary to ensure that teeth are evenly sized, which can improve the success orthodontic work or other cosmetic procedures. However, it can take time for a crown to be produced in the lab, and during this time, you'll need to wear a temporary crown. These are less strong and less secure than permanent crowns, so it's important to be cautious with them. Take a look at some tips for caring for temporary crowns.

Use Caution When Eating

Temporary crowns serve a couple of purposes. One is cosmetic – they look better than just leaving the tooth uncovered. They can also prevent some discomfort. Your dentist will need to prepare your tooth for the permanent crown by filing it down. This can leave the remaining tooth exposed and oversensitive, so covering it with a temporary crown can help prevent sensitivity.

Despite serving these important purposes, temporary crowns are not as functional as permanent crowns or natural teeth. You won't be able to bite or chew with them the way that you normally do. Temporary crowns are usually made of a plastic material that can break or stain, and the cement used to hold them in place isn't as strong as the cement that will be used for the permanent crowns, so they can fall off if you're not careful. It's usually best to chew on the opposite side of the mouth as the side where the temporary crown is located. You may also want to avoid chomping down sticky or crunchy foods with your crowns. If the temporary crowns are located in the front of your mouth, you may need to avoid foods that require biting into, like apples, until the permanent crowns are placed.

Don't Forget to Brush

Just because your crowns are temporary doesn't mean that you can neglect to clean them. On the contrary, since these plastic crowns are more likely to stain than the permanent ones, you'll want to take special care to keep them clean so that you aren't stuck with unsightly stains until the permanent crowns are put into place.

What's more, while temporary crowns do protect the underlying tooth somewhat from cavities or decay, they aren't as secure as the permanent ones, and bacteria could find their way underneath the temporary crown. This means that you could develop decay under the temporary crown, especially near the gum line. Developing cavities underneath the temporary crown might delay placement of the permanent crown, since you'd need more dental work before the permanent crown could be placed. Make sure to brush and floss daily to avoid this.

Don't Wait Too Long to Have the Permanent Crowns Placed

If you're not having problems with your temporary crowns, it can be easy to put off going in to have the permanent crowns placed. However, it's a mistake to wait too long. Temporary crowns are generally made to last about 2 to 3 weeks. This time frame may vary somewhat based on your treatment plan, but typically dentists don't prepare the tooth for permanent crowns unless they can be placed in less than a month.

The longer you wait to have your permanent crowns placed, the more the temporary crown will wear. The changes in your temporary crown can cause your other teeth to shift, affecting the positioning and bite of your other teeth. What's more, the longer you wait, the more likely you are to experience decay underneath the temporary crown, especially as the cement holding it in place starts to wear out. The crown may also fall off completely, leaving the underlying tooth exposed.

Occasionally, there is a good reason for your temporary crowns to remain in place for longer than a month. If for some reason your dentist needs you to wear a temporary crown for an extended period of time, they will have you come in periodically so that the temporary crown can be maintained, readjusted, and recemented if necessary. Make sure to stick to your dentist's schedule and don't put off coming in to have your temporary crowns cared for or replaced with permanent crowns.

Taking care of your temporary crowns while you have them can help ensure the success of your permanent crowns once they're placed. Be sure to ask your dentist about any special instructions they have that will help you take care of your temporary crowns.