Why A Temporary Crown Is Important!!

If you're having a dental crown made by a dental laboratory, your dentist will put a temporary crown on your tooth. This is usually a resin (plastic-type) material that is put on with a "cement" that is designed to allow it to be removed when your lab-made crown arrives.

This temporary crown is important for several reasons. Probably what you consider most important is that it covers your tooth and keeps it from being sensitive and keeps your tongue from feeling rough edges. But what your dentist considers important is that the temporary crown is keeping the space he or she created for the crown.

To prepare your tooth for a crown, your tooth is reduced in size by a few millimeters around all the sides and off the chewing surface. A few millimeters doesn't sound like a lot, but those millimeters are important! They allow room for the crown material (whether lab made, in-office milled, or the temporary crown).

Our teeth are "social"--they like to touch each other. When a tooth is prepared for a crown, it is no longer touching the teeth next to it or the one(s) opposing it. The temporary crown is what fills that space and makes the other teeth think they are still touching that tooth. 

When the temporary crown is not present, your tooth wants to drift--so the space between the teeth closes up and the space between that tooth and the opposing tooth/teeth can get smaller as well. Why is that important? The lost space may lead to heavy adjustment of your lab made crown to get it to fit on your tooth (because the space on either side of the tooth got smaller) and heavy adjustment of the chewing surface of the lab made crown so that it doesn't feel like the crown is the only tooth touching when you bite down. 

You may not think that's a big deal--but it can be. Best case scenario is that your crown may be sent back to the dental laboratory for re-glazing to try to seal up or prevent any cracks from forming in the material. But it's also possible that the crown material will crack or break while your dentist is trying to adjust it, meaning that the lab will need to make you a new crown (creating a delay in when you get your crown) or, if you have the porcelain fused to metal type of crown, you may get an unsightly metal show through (Gray, silver, gold, etc.). 

So please, if you have a temporary crown on a tooth, and it comes out long before your next appointment with your dentist, please call the office and schedule to have the temporary crown put back on the tooth or find out if it is okay to leave it off until your appointment. 

*Note: Information in this article is not meant to replace the clinical judgement of your healthcare professionals