How Long can a Temporary Crown Last?
Before we get into how long temporary crowns last, let us first start with what a temporary crown is. A temporary crown is a cover for your tooth that is customised for your tooth.
This will be placed on your tooth until a permanent crown can be fixed. In other words, it’s a cap for your tooth. Now, you must be wondering why one would need a temporary crown in the first place. A temporary crown is used to cover a tooth implant, a repaired and sensitive tooth or a tooth with root canal. You can also use a crown to hide a large cavity that cannot be filled or even for cosmetic reasons.
A crown helps to rebuild the three S’s of your tooth, which include:
- Tooth shape
- Tooth size
- Tooth strength
Since getting a permanent crown custom-made for your tooth can take anywhere from 3 to 21 days, the dentist will place a temporary crown in its place.
During this time, you can use a temporary crown to:
- Maintain the gap between your teeth
- Protect the sensitive site
- Chew your food and swallow
- Help you get used to the presence of the crown
Must-know Deets about Temporary Crowns
Under this part of the article, I’m gonna tell you about a few things that you should know about temporary crowns.
Temporary crowns are not made to stand the test of time. They are only made to last a few weeks. So make sure you don’t forget to make it to your subsequent dental appointment.
Since temporary crowns are not durable, they are made with cheap materials like acrylic or stainless steel.
- Most dentist’s offices can manufacture a temporary crown for your tooth on the spot. They will just shave the tooth and get a clear imprint and fathom a crown. Sounds cool, right?
- Stainless steel crowns are used for kids to protect their milk tooth from further decay.
How Long can a Temporary Crown Last?
Ideally, temporary crowns must only be used for the period that it takes for the lab to get your permanent crown ready. This is usually between 3 to 21 days. However, a temporary crown can last for much longer than necessary.
And sometimes, depending on any ongoing periodontal or endodontic treatment, the dentist may delay fitting the permanent crown, in which case you can wear the temporary crown for prolonged periods as long as they are well-maintained and modified.
What happens if you leave a temporary crown on for longer than the prescribed amount of time?
If you have your temporary crown against your dentist’s advice, be warned that you may be prone to gingival infection due to any fracture or leak at the problematic tooth site. This happens because the temporary cement that holds the temporary crown in place will eventually wash out.
What to expect from this procedure?
This kind of procedure usually only requires 2 sittings. And the first one takes longer as most of the work is done then.
- The problematic tooth is first numbed completely and some part of the tooth structure is shaved off. How much of the tooth should be shaved off will be determined by your particular dental discomfort and the type of crown that you opt for.
- Once, the tooth is properly trimmed, it is time to take the imprint. This is the most important step as this is what determines if your crown is a perfect fit or not.
- To prepare the tooth for etching, the tooth is first washed and tried like your hair before styling.
- Once the tooth is completely dry, a retraction cord is placed all around the tooth to keep the gums from getting in the way of a perfect tooth impression.
- After this, the dentist will prepare the material for impression and the tray is pushed over the tooth that needs the crown and adjacent teeth as well for a 360 degree impression.
- After this, the dentist will also take a bite impression to make sure that all of the patient’s teeth work together properly for easy biting and constant chewing.
With constant advancements in technology, dentists can now also take optical impressions and send a digital copy of the impression to the lab as opposed to a physical one.
Finally, the dentist makes a colour match with your other teeth and the crown. We don’t want the crown to be too white, now do we?
And now, all you and the dentist have to do is wait.
The Final Appointment
When you come back for the permanent crown fitting, don’t be nervous. It is not as tedious as the first one.
Once again, the tooth will be numbed and the dentist will remove the temporary crown. Now, he/she will place the permanent crown on your tooth. It may take multiple tries to determine the perfect fit.
Once the dentist finds the optimal fit, he or she will cement the permanent crown in place and remove excess white cement from around it.
Then all you have to do is bite on a cotton gauze until the cement sets in and seals the crown in place.
How to Care for a Temporary Crown?
You may feel like the bulk of your work is done as soon as you reach home after the first appointment, but no.
Here is a list of after-care tips for your crown that you should employ to avoid any unwanted complications. This is your chance if you didn’t pay proper attention to your dentist.
1. Watch what you eat
While a temporary crown is also of good quality and will not just come off as it is also being held by cement (not the ones used to hold permanent crowns in place), you should still be wary of chewing hard or sticky foods (no ice or candy).
These may cause damage to the crown. You must also consciously avoid chewing on the side of the mouth that the temporary crown was placed.
List of foods to avoid when you have a temporary crown:
- Crunchy fruits like apples
- Crunchy vegetables like carrots
- Hard bread (subs and club sandwiches)
- Chewing gum
2. Brush and floss as usual
After a temporary crown placement, the tooth site may feel uneasy and you will be tempted to avoid brushing or flossing around that area.
But you should definitely brush and floss like you usually do. Just slide the floss in and out gently and do not push it down. And gently brush around the crown area. Use a toothbrush with super-soft bristles. A HUGE NO to electric toothbrushes.
Since the temporary crown is not stuck with something as permanent as white cement, there are chances of residual food particles getting under the crown and causing further cavities and complications.
Sugary foods especially have the tendency to get into tiny gaps and cause decays and cavities.
3. Don’t miss your next appointment
Mark your calendar and please do make it to your follow-up dental appointment. It will take much less time than your first one and you will be free of any toothache or discomfort once you get the permanent crown placed.
We have already covered the harmful effects of leaving a temporary crown on too long against medical advice.
What to do if the crown comes off?
It is very rare that your temporary crown will come off. But if it does, try to slowly push it back in place. If you cannot or have lost the temporary crown, contact your dentist immediately.
The crown should be replaced immediately. Even if you have just 2 days until you have to go in for your permanent crown fixation, do not stay without a temporary crown.
Without a temporary crown, the tooth will be more sensitive to hot and cold foods. There may also be unbearable pain at the site. There are also chances of the tooth or gum becoming infected. Also, without the crown in place to protect the tooth, the tooth may also move a bit and this may cause problems when you have to fit the permanent crown.
Remember that your tooth is not strong enough without a crown. It is like a blind man without a stick. So get the blind man a stick immediately if he loses it.
Any crown, be it permanent or temporary is an investment in your permanent oral care. So ask around and go to the best dentist you can afford and also, take their advice and care for your teeth so you can flash a perfect smile without any discomfort.
Pro Tip: Crown Costs – Make sure you have insurance to cover the costs of getting a crown placed. It could range anywhere from $1000 to $3500. If you don’t have insurance, contant a third-party financing company and agree on a payment plan that suits you best.