Patient Instructions: After Temporary Crowns
After your first crown or dental bridge appointment, refrain from eating for at least 1 hour and until the anesthesia has worn off. A temporary crown or bridge is placed on your prepared teeth while your permanent restoration is created. The temporary crown or bridge serves several important functions:
- It protects the exposed dentin so it will be not sensitive
- It prevents food and bacteria from collecting on the prepared tooth area
- It prevents the tooth from shifting or moving. If your tooth shifts, it can make seating of the permanent restoration much more difficult or even impossible.
What to Do After a Temporary Crown
Luckily, some modern dental techniques can successfully ‘save’ teeth that have cracked, been broken, or had a large filling degrade and fall out. As long as the base structure of the tooth and underlying jawbone are still healthy, an endodontist can usually save the tooth.
Such dentists specialize in restoring damaged teeth and can protect their surface with an appliance known as a dental crown. A crown can be a temporary or a permanent variety and they have different functions.
Why Do I Need a Temporary Crown?
Sometimes a root canal has been performed to remove infected nerve or pulp from the interior of the affected tooth. Other times a titanium post and specialized cement may be used to strengthen a cracked or broken tooth.
In either case, a temporary crown is usually placed over the remainder of the treated tooth. This is done to protect it for a short but important period of time until the permanent dental crown can be placed. Let’s have a closer look at what the patient can expect once a temporary crown has been put in place and discuss the things that should or should not be done during the aftercare period.
After Leaving the Dental Chair
First of all, remember that the temporary crown is usually just a hard plastic or aluminum cap that only approximates the original shape of the tooth that your dentist has restored. This won’t have very much of a cosmetic function but that’s not critically important at this stage.
The main idea of a temporary crown is to provide some modicum of protection to the restored but still vulnerable tooth underneath. This gives the dental clinic time to prepare the permanent crown from the mold they have taken.
Heading Out the Door
No doubt, the dentist or dental technician will provide you with a short list of instructions regarding some of the dos and don’ts of your aftercare. Before leaving, they may also remind you that the temporary crown has been set into place with something like Temp-Bond, a rather soft and non-permanent dental cement.
This material makes for easier removal of the temporary crown when you return, usually in two weeks, to be fitted with the permanent version. Until that time, you should know that a basic regimen should be followed to give the temporary crown and your tooth the best chance of making it intact to the final office visit.
Time and Tantalizing Foods
It takes about one full hour for the cemented temporary crown to set up, so it is imperative that the patient not chew on anything for at least that period of time. After an hour or so, softer foods may be consumed and gently chewed. Also, most any beverage can be enjoyed as long as it’s not icy cold or piping hot. Remember that this temporarily protected tooth may be quite sensitive to such extreme temperatures for the next couple weeks.
During this time period it’s important to avoid consuming any hard or tougher foods like steak, granola bars, hard candy or trail mix that may require heavy or robust chewing pressure. As a reminder it goes without saying that you should never ever chew on ice. Additionally, avoid anything sticky such as peanut butter, gum, popcorn or caramel based treats. Though quite tasty, these ‘gummy goodies’ could pose a problem because they can pull at the temporary crown, increasing the potential to loosen the bond that holds this appliance in place.
Temporary Crown Aftercare
Aside from refraining from some of the foods just mentioned, there are a number of things that the patient should do after their first appointment. As noted, it will take about two weeks for the permanent porcelain or gold crown to be cast and prepped for your next dental visit. During this time period it’s very important to insure that the temporary crown and the tooth underneath it are kept in good condition.
Here are several things to do and to remember so that the restoration goes as smoothly as possible:
- First of all, continue to brush normally but not vigorously. If a soft bristle toothbrush helps you, then by all means use one as needed.
- Floss as necessary, but try to avoid flossing around the temporary crown. If you do, use side-to-side motion only, never up and down because such action may lift or pop the crown off the tooth.
- A daily 30 second rinse with an oral debriding agent like a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution can help to keep the gum line around the repaired tooth as healthy as possible.
- If for any reason the temporary crown comes off, by all means try to contact your dentist as soon as possible to have it re-set.
- If immediate dental care is not possible, some dentists recommend that you visit a pharmacy to purchase DenTemp™ or Tempanol™ to bond the temporary crown back onto your tooth.
- Remember, if the temporary crown comes off, any long exposure of the unprotected tooth could compromise the integrity of the repair and possibly lead to loss of the tooth itself.
If Your Temporary Crown Comes Loose
- If your temporary crown or bridge dislodges or comes off between appointments, slip it back on and then call our office at (208) 522-1164.
- We will re-cement it to your tooth.
- This is very important. Call our office to schedule a brief appointment for re-cementing, even if your tooth is not uncomfortable.
- Some denture adhesive or even toothpaste placed inside the crown hold it in place until you see us.
What Else Should We Know About These Crowns?
Your usual biting or chewing habits may occasionally remind you of the general sensitivity of the repaired tooth under the temporary crown. This is also true of extremely hot or cold beverages, and all of this is within normal parameters. If daily basic care has been taken and with a little luck the two week interval between the temporary crown and a permanent version should be rather uneventful.
The final visit to the dentist will generally require taking a quick x-ray to make a final inspection of the repaired tooth. Then, the temporary crown will be removed and the new and permanent crown will be cemented into place to complete the full restoration of the tooth.
A crown is strong and long lasting, and it can be as fully functional as all of your other teeth. Remember, however, that a dental check up every six months, as well as regular cleaning, will go a long way toward maintaining good dentition and a lifelong, healthy smile.