Dentistry
Cosmetic
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Updated on December 29, 2022
5 min read

Temporary Crowns

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What is a Temporary Crown?

It often takes a few days or weeks for a permanent dental crown to be fabricated. During that time, your dentist will fit you with a temporary crown.

A temporary dental crown is not as precise or customized as a laboratory-made crown. However, it offers temporary protection for the tooth so you can eat and speak comfortably.

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What Does a Temporary Crown Look Like?

Depending on the material and your dentist’s skills, the temporary crown may look like a simple version of a tooth or a well-sculpted tooth. Temporary crowns are usually made from acrylic material or stainless steel. 

An acrylic crown will usually not match your adjacent teeth perfectly, but this may not be noticeable except up close. A stainless steel crown has a metallic appearance and is typically very noticeable.

In general, your dentist will try to get as close a match to your natural teeth as possible. However, it may not be as natural-looking as the permanent crown.

When Do You Need a Temporary Crown?

Most dentists will provide you with a temporary crown while a permanent one is being made.

After a root canal or treatment for a broken tooth, a permanent crown will protect and restore its normal function. Crowns are also placed on dental implants (artificial tooth roots) to replace missing teeth.

Making a custom permanent crown can take several days or weeks. While you wait for the final restoration to be ready, a temporary crown does the following:

  • Prevents tooth and gum sensitivity
  • Protects your natural tooth from decay
  • Allows you to eat
  • Avoids gaps between your teeth
  • Prevents your teeth from shifting 
  • Helps maintain oral health

If your dentist can provide same-day crowns with CAD/CAM technology, you may not need a temporary crown.

Some dental offices don’t need a third-party lab to make your crown. Instead, they take a 3D scan of your teeth and use it to create a permanent crown within an hour or two.

Temporary Crown Procedure 

Placing a temporary crown is usually simple and doesn't cause much discomfort. You can expect the following:

  1. First, your dentist will have you make an imprint of the prepared tooth using wax or plaster. 
  2. Your dentist will use this impression and fill it with a self-curing acrylic material to create the temporary crown (some dentists will use stock aluminum or stainless steel molar crowns instead).
  3. The acrylic-filled imprint will then be placed over the tooth several times to get a good fit. Once the acrylic has cured and hardened, it will serve as a temporary crown. Your dentist will trim it to fit your bite.
  4. Once the fit is comfortable, your dentist will use temporary cement to attach the crown. 
  5. Any excess cement will be cleaned off, and your dentist will provide care instructions. 

How to Care for a Temporary Crown

A temporary crown isn’t made from as strong a material as a permanent one and won’t fit as precisely. It’s also attached with a weaker cement.

Try not to disturb or dislodge your temporary crown. Brush your teeth thoroughly but gently. When you floss, gently slide the floss through instead of pulling it up and down.

Can You Eat and Drink Normally?

Your diet doesn’t have to change radically while you have a temporary crown. But there are a few things you should avoid.

Avoid tough or crunchy foods, as these can dislodge the crown. Cut meat, vegetables, and large fruits into bite-sized pieces. Avoid sticky foods as well.

You also shouldn’t drink anything extremely hot or cold. Doing so can disturb the temporary cement. Let your coffee or tea cool down before drinking, or consider using a straw.

How Long Does a Temporary Crown Last?

Temporary crowns are meant to last a few weeks at most. You generally won’t be expected to have one for longer than 2 to 3 weeks.

Your dentist will provide you with an appointment date for your permanent crown placement before you leave. This date will be within the time your temporary crown is meant to last, so you shouldn’t need more than one.

Because temporary crowns aren’t meant to last very long, you should not brush, floss, eat, or drink in a way that may dislodge it. Your dentist will give your instructions—be sure to follow them.

What to Do if a Temporary Crown Falls Out

If your temporary crown falls out, call your dentist to make an appointment for it to be recemented.

In the meantime, you can use over-the-counter temporary dental cement to recement your crown. Avoid leaving the crown off your tooth for too long, as this can lead to damage or infection.

How Much Does a Temporary Crown Cost?

Temporary crowns are usually included in the cost of the permanent crown procedure. The total cost of a crown may range from $500 to $3,000 but typically falls toward the lower end.

Most dentists won’t charge separately for a temporary crown because it isn’t created to last. It’s simply included in the final price.

Your dentist may ask for a partial payment when you get your temporary crown. You’ll pay the rest when you get your permanent one.

Insurance

If you have dental insurance, crowns are likely to be covered. They’re usually considered medically necessary. This includes temporary crowns since they’re factored into the total cost of permanent crowns.

Summary

Temporary crowns provide short-term protection for a prepared tooth while a permanent crown is being made. These crowns are made from less durable materials, attached with a weaker cement, and won’t fit as precisely. 

Temporary crowns are simply intended to allow you to go about your life more or less normally until your permanent crown is ready. Follow your dentist’s instructions and treat your temporary crown with care.

Last updated on December 29, 2022
9 Sources Cited
Last updated on December 29, 2022
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. Karaokutan, Isil, et al. “In vitro study of fracture strength of provisional crown materials.” The Journal of Advanced Prosthodontics, 2015.
  2. Astudillo-Rubio, Daniela, et al. “Mechanical properties of provisional dental materials: A systematic review and meta-analysis.” PLoS One, 2018.
  3. Nie, Emilly, et al. “Clinical application of temporary crown and cement materials: Physical properties and biological safety.” Journal of Clinical Rehabilitative Tissue Engineering Research, 2015.
  4. Christensen, G.J. "When is a full-crown restoration indicated?" Journal of the American Dental Association, 2007.
  5. Worley, J.L. et al. “Effects of cement on crown retention.” The Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry, 1982.
  6. Liebenberg, W.H. “Improving interproximal access in direct provisional acrylic resin restorations.” Quintessence International, 1994.
  7. Margeas, R. “Temporary Cement Options.” Inside Dentistry, 2011.
  8. Wassell, R.W. et al. “Crowns and other extra-coronal restorations: provisional restorations.” British Dental Journal, 2002.
  9. How Much Does a Dental Crown Cost?” CostHelper Health.
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