Crowns provide a protective cover for both natural teeth and dental implants. Crowns are recommended when a tooth is badly shaped, weak due to a large filling, or used to anchor bridges, which replace missing teeth or those that needed extracting. After preparing the tooth 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, it helps the patient to continue to eat and speak normally during this interim period.
Making of a Crown
To make room for the permanent crown, the natural tooth is filed down over the sides and top. Then an impressions are taken of the filed tooth and those above and below it. These impressions are then sent to a dental laboratory to create the permanent crown. Because this can take two to three weeks, a temporary crown is needed to protect the tooth 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.
Difference between Temporary and Permanent Crowns
There are a few differences between temporary and permanent crowns. Keep in mind that temporary crowns are made to last only a few weeks, whereas permanent crowns can last to ~15 years with good care. Temporary crowns are made of plastic, but permanent crowns are made of high-grade porcelain or porcelain bonded to metal.
The cement used to fix temporary crowns should be fairly easy to break, because they must be removed in order to attach permanent crowns. In contrast, permanent crowns are fixed with tough, durable glues such as glass ionomer and resin-modified glass ionomer cement.
Caring for Temporary Crowns
Normal brushing with a fluoride toothpaste actually helps to care for temporary crowns just like normal teeth. Immediately after the crown is fitted, don't eat for 30 minutes, while the cement sets. Avoid sticky foods because they might pull temporary crowns off. If the crown does come off, the patient can fix it back in place with over-the-counter denture cement until their next dental visit.
Temporary crowns play an important role as a placeholder for the permanent crown. It's important not to leave a temporary crown out of the mouth for long periods of time, because teeth can move, which might cause the permanent crown to not fit properly.
A temporary crown protects natural teeth from being 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.
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.
Brian Y. Kuo DDS FAGD