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Temporary Crowns: The Ultimate Guide to Placement, Materials, and Care

Natalie Asmussen
Contributor:
Natalie Asmussen
Medically reviewed by
Dr. Ashley Niles
Medically reviewed by
Dr. Karen Kemp-Prosterman
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Up-to-Date
temporary dental crown
Temporary crowns fill gaps while you
wait for your permanent crown

Are you curious about temporary crowns? In short, temporary crowns are caps placed on or over your teeth while you wait for your permanent crowns to be made. They are typically made from acrylic or metal, and are neither as strong nor as aesthetically pleasing as permanent crowns, since they are only intended for short-time wear.

Keep reading to learn everything you need about temporary dental crowns.

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What is a temporary crown?

Temporary crowns, also known as provisional crowns, are dental restorations designed to protect and maintain the aesthetics of a tooth while you wait for a permanent crown. These crowns are custom-made to match the shape and color of your natural tooth, providing an interim solution until the permanent crown is ready for placement.

Benefits of temporary crowns

Temporary crowns offer various benefits, including:

  • Restoring normal dental function, speech and aesthetics
  • Protecting the remaining tooth structure while the permanent crown is being made
  • Preventing the tooth from moving or getting damaged
  • Preserving the alignment of adjacent teeth
Ask a dentist: What are the benefits of a crown?

A temporary crown is used to restore and enhance teeth that are damaged, or to take the place of missing teeth. A crown, also referred to as a cap, is used to entirely cover a damaged tooth. A temporary crown not only strengthens a tooth, but it can drastically improve a tooth’s appearance, shape and alignment.

A temporary crown is a good option to help with a patient’s current problem before a permanent crown can be made and secured into place. It’s important to note that a temporary crown is more sensitive to breaking, so being extra careful when brushing, flossing, and eating is important with temporary crowns.

Dr. Ashley Niles, Niles Family Dentistry

Temporary crown material

Temporary crowns are typically made from acrylic-based materials, composite resin, or stainless steel. Each material has its own advantages and considerations.

The best temporary crown material tends to be composite resin, as they look natural thanks to their translucent quality and they are quite durable. Stainless steel crowns are very strong but may not provide the most natural look.

Types of temporary crowns

There are three main types of temporary crowns: Acrylic-based, composite resin, and stainless steel.

Acrylic-based temporary crowns

  • Easy to make, and materials are low-cost, making this an especially cost-effective option
  • Although temporary crowns aren't typically customized, these can be to match the shape and color of your natural teeth, providing pleasing aesthetics
  • Not be as durable as other materials and are more prone to wear and fracture

Composite resin temporary crowns

  • More durable than acrylic temporary crowns
  • Made using tooth-colored material for a natural look
  • Can be prefabricated or custom made

Stainless steel temporary crowns

  • Most common option for temporary tooth replacement
  • These are always prefabricated, not customized
  • Very durable — not very natural looking

Difference between temporary and permanent crowns

So, what's the difference between a temporary crown and a permanent crown? Besides the super obvious, the differences between these two types of crowns are:

  • Materials: Provisional crowns are made from acrylics, composite resin, or stainless steel, while permanent dental crowns are made from higher-quality materials, including gold, stainless steel with a white facing, porcelain, or ceramic, such as an Emax crown.
  • Duration of wear: You will wear your provisional crown for two to three weeks, whereas your permanent crown should last anywhere from five to twenty-five years, depending on the quality of the materials used.
  • Form: Provisional crowns are made from a universal, one-size-fits-all form that probably won't perfectly match the shape of the opposite tooth, whereas your permanent dental crown will be made just for you.
  • Fitting: Provisional crowns are cemented using temporary cement on your implant or tooth, and permanent crowns are fitted with permanent cement. They also might require additional adjustments, like tooth filing.

Have a look at the table below to see a summary of the differences between these two types of dental crowns:

Temporary

Permanent

Materials

Acrylic or metal

Gold, ceramic, stainless steel, or procelain

How long it lasts

2-3 weeks

5-25 years

Form

Universal fit

Custom made to fit your mouth

Fitting

Temporary cement

May need tooth filing or other adjustments before cementing with permanent cement

Do temporary crowns hurt?

Temporary crowns may hurt and some people experience tooth pain after placement. Sometimes they are too tall and collide with the opposing tooth, which can even cause inflammation in your crowned tooth.

Another cause of pain can be improperly sealing your temporary tooth crown. This exposes your dentin and nerves to air and makes it sensitive to hot and cold temperatures.

Furthermore, some of the materials used to make provisional crowns give off heat in their self-setting phase during chair-side fabrication. These, in addition to having a rougher feel on your soft tissue or tongue, can also cause slight irritation and pain.

If you experience throbbing pain after temporary crown placement, there's also the possibility of underlying conditions like tooth decay or infection that must be addressed.

If you experience discomfort or minor pain, you can try some home remedies for relief, but if the pain becomes severe or you experience prolonged temporary crown pain after a week, it's time to call your dentist.

Temporary crown care and maintainence

Temporary crowns aren't meant to last very long, but while you have one for your own comfort and oral health, it's essential to take good care of it. So let's look at some of the most important things to remember while wearing a provisional cap.

Rules for eating and chewing

foods to avoid with temporary crowns
Think twice before you bite into that apple
  • Stay away from sticky: You should be able to chew normally with your temporary dental crown. However, it's best to avoid chewing on particularly hard or sticky foods like gum, hard candy, nuts, caramel, and apples. That's right, an apple a day won't keep the dentist away if you've got a temporary tooth cap!
  • Just say no to sugar: You should always avoid too many sugary foods for your oral and overall health, but it's even more important with provisional crowns because there may be a gap between it and your gums, where sugar can get in and set up camp, which could lead to decay.
  • Don't go to extremes: Stay away from extremely hot or extremely cold foods, as temporary crown cement may lose its staying power. Extreme heat can affect your temporary cement, especially right after insertion.

Hygiene

Keep your crown looking good, the tooth or gums below it healthy, and your adjacent teeth happy with proper oral hygiene. You should:

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day (just like you would normally)
  • You may need to brush your crown a bit more gently
  • Take care while flossing so as not to dislodge the temporary crown cement.

What to do if your temporary crown falls off

If you have a temporary crown that fell off, the best thing you can do is call the dentist. They'll want to replace it with another dental crown to ensure you don't leave an empty space in your mouth with missing teeth, which can cause all sorts of problems.

If you aren't able to see a dentist right away, you may want to consider a home tooth repair kit.

In the video below, Dr. Nate explains what to do if your temporary crown comes off. He stressed that it's essential to know why it fell off and what to do to get it replaced.

What to do if your temporary crown looks horrible?

If your temporary crown looks horrible and you can't live with it until your permanent crown comes in, then you should consult your dentist and see if they can fix it. Keep in mind that your temporary crown is not meant to look as good as a permanent crown, and especially if it's made from stainless steel, chances are that the aesthetics will be a bit off.

Conclusion

Temporary crowns protect your gums, implants, or natural tooth while waiting for your permanent cap to be ready. Unless your dentist specifies otherwise, you may wear these temporary dental crowns for two to three weeks.

You need to take some extra care with your provisional crown and avoid hard, sticky, or chewy foods, very hot or cold foods, and extra sugary foods. You should also continue brushing at least twice daily and flossing, but be more careful around the cap.

Call your dentist ASAP for emergency dental treatment if you experience throbbing pain after temporary crown placement. However, a bit of discomfort is probably nothing to worry about. After all, it's temporary, and soon you'll have your permanent new tooth!

FAQs

How long does the pain last after temporary crown placement?

You may experience mild pain or discomfort while wearing your temporary crown, which is normal in most cases, and not likely to go away until after you install your permanent one. Call your dentist if the pain doesn't subside with painkillers or gets worse.

If you are experiencing extreme pain, you need to call your dentist, as something serious could be wrong.

What do I do if my temporary crown keeps falling off?

If your temporary crown falls off, you should see your dentist to get it back in. If it falls off another time, you should still contact your dentist. They'll likely want to try to put it back on. You can use temporary repair kits in the meantime, but it's always best to talk to your dentist. Also, make sure to stay away from sticky and hard foods.

What does a temporary crown feel like?

A temporary crown may feel uncomfortable occasionally if it does not fit perfectly in your mouth. You might also notice that it doesn't fit perfectly with the opposing tooth when your mouth is closed. Let your dentist know about any discomfort you are feeling, especially if that discomfort turns into throbbing pain.

Can you eat normally with a temporary crown?

Yes, you can chew normally with your temporary crown, but because it is only temporary, you need to make sure you avoid chewing on sticky and hard foods until you get your permanent crown.

How long does a temporary crown last?

Your provisional crown will usually last for 2 to 3 weeks while your permanent dental crown is in production at the dental lab. You need to realize that it's only for provisional use, and the permanent crown will replace it.

What are temporary crowns made of?

Temporary crowns are made of either acrylic, composite resin, or stainless steel. Acrylic and composite resin are the most natural-looking options, while stainless steel is the most durable.

How are temporary crowns made?

Temporary crowns are made after your dentist takes an impression of your prepared tooth using putty or a digital scanner. Then the crown is either made right in the dental office or made in a lab. Once complete, they are cemented over your tooth until you get your permanent crown.

Temporary Crowns: The Ultimate Guide to Placement, Materials, and Care
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Sources

American Academy of Periodontology: What Are the Consequences of Missing Teeth? Consulted 23rd May 2020.