***Originally published at http://www.davisdentistry.com/services/temporaries***
Purpose of Dental Temporaries
Your dentist creates custom temporaries when your tooth needs a crown or veneer, when you need a bridge, when you are undergoing implant treatment, when you need bite reconstruction, or when you are having a smile makeover. Temporaries or “provisionals” serve many important functions.
First, the temporaries act as a protective barrier over the areas of your teeth that have been prepared for the final restoration. When preparing your teeth, it may have been necessary to reduce the amount of enamel and expose some of the dentin on your teeth. This could lead to tooth sensitivity if not protected with a temporary while your final restoration is being fabricated. In addition to reducing sensitivity, a temporary will help to reduce the possibility of plaque build-up and decay on your exposed tooth.
Temporaries also act as place-holders during your dental treatment. Without a temporary in place, your teeth may move slightly or your gum tissue contours may change in height. Either of these changes could create challenges during the “seat” appointment when your final restoration is placed. Although your dentist should always correct any situation so that your final result is the most ideal, both clinically and esthetically, it is often much easier to have an ounce of temporary prevention than a pound of cure!
In some cases, and especially in smile makeovers, the temporaries act as a type of model for your final crowns, veneers, or bridges. While in temporaries, you can “test drive” both the look and function of your teeth. The temporaries allow for you and your dentist to have discussions about the cosmetic and functional concerns you may have. Any adjustments made in the temporaries are re-adjustable, and your final decisions are communicated directly with the lab. This reduces the need for additional adjustments after seating your new teeth.
And, of course, temporaries allow you to leave your house during treatment! You will have a tooth that will allow you to eat, smile, and talk normally!
When Temporaries Are Necessary
Your dentist always makes temporaries for any tooth that requires both a “prep” appointment and a “seat” appointment; this includes crowns, veneers, inlays, onlays, bridges, implants, bite reconstructions, and smile makeovers. Temporaries are especially important when multiple teeth are to be prepared, or when occlusal (bite) or cosmetic changes are anticipated.
Depending on your dental treatment, you may have your temporary in place for ten days for single crowns to three weeks for more complex cases and smile makeovers. In some cases, such as full-mouth reconstructions and some implants, you may wear your temporaries for up to several months. Every dentist knows that many patients travel for both business and pleasure, and so uses temporary materials and bonding agents that will last for the duration of your treatment.
How Temporaries Are Made
Your temporaries will be made in a direct “chairside” technique by your dentist. Before beginning treatment on your teeth, your dentist or a member of the dental team will take an impression of your teeth. After preparing your teeth and taking the “final” impression that will be used to create your restorations, your dentist will use the “first” or “bite” impression to create your custom, tooth-colored temporary. If you would like, changes can be made to the temporary either immediately or anytime before your final appointment – and you typically do not have to “get numb” for these adjustments!
If you are having more extensive dental treatment, such as a smile makeover or a full-mouth reconstruction, your dentist may have a “wax-up” done so that you and he can discuss your treatment, including the shape, contour, lip support, length, and look of your final teeth. The “wax-up” is based on models of your mouth, and is modified to the “ideal” final outcome. Using a matrix made from the “wax-up” model, your dentist will create your custom temporaries during your treatment appointment. After placing your model-based temporaries, your dentist can make any adjustments that you would like either that day or at a later date. Just like with single temporaries, you typically will not have to be numb for temporary adjustments.
Placement and Removal of Temporaries
Although they are only temporary, it is very important that your temporaries do remain in place for the duration of your dental treatment! You will hear the dental team repeatedly tell you to “stay away from the sticky food and the hard food” in the area of your temporary. If your temporary should happen to come out, you may be able to simply side the temporary back in and simple retention might hold it in place. If the temporary won’t stay in place, you should call your dental office as soon as possible, and they will either be able to verbally help you or schedule a quick appointment in the office. In most cases, you will not need to be numb to re-cement or even re-create your temporary.
Most dentists use a temporary or “provisional” cement for your temporaries. Because of its creamy consistency, your temporaries remain on your teeth during treatment, but are easily removed at your “seat” appointment. Although you will be aware of the pressure when the dentist removes your temporaries, you should not experience any pain during this appointment, even without anesthesia. If you have long-term temporaries or have extended travel plans, your dentist may use a temporary bonding technique which will require a slightly longer appointment time when the final restorations are placed.
Temporaries: Concerns, Care and Travel Considerations
Although most dentists use the highest-quality temporary materials and cements, you may experience some concerns with your temporaries. Most of these concerns are typical and will be resolved with the placement of your final restorations. Some of the more frequently-noted concerns include:
- A rough or irritating texture.
- A heightened awareness to hot or cold food and drink.
- A less-than-ideal esthetic of the temporaries.
- Bad breath, especially if at-home oral hygiene is not maintained. (This means keep brushing and flossing your teeth!)
To experience as few problems as possible with your temporaries, adhering to the following care instructions can be helpful:
- If you experience tenderness in the gum tissue and teeth, take a mild pain reliever or anti-inflammatory according to the directions. Call your dental office if the discomfort does not subside or worsens.
- Rinse with warm salt water (1/2 teaspoon of salt in a four-ounce glass) for a couple of days to help lessen gum sensitivity.
- Avoid sticky foods, such as caramel, taffy or gum, since these can dislodge the temporary.
- When brushing your teeth, use a soft bristle brush to gently massage gum tissue.
- Floss daily, but pull the floss through the sides of your teeth instead of pulling up. Anyone on the dental team can demonstrate this simple technique for you.
- To avoid breaks, do not chew on hard substances, such as nuts, ice, or pencils. If possible, chew on the opposite side of your mouth.
Depending on the length of time that you are wearing your temporaries, you may need to travel for work or pleasure while your final restorations are being fabricated. Be sure to discuss this with your dentist before you start any procedure so he can incorporate the fabrication of your temporaries into your treatment and travel schedule.