A temporary or provisional dental restoration is any dental composite, amalgam, cement, bridge, or crown that is intended to be used in the mouth for a short amount of time. The purpose of a temporary dental restoration is to provide a barrier to protect the tooth and to prevent pain from exposed nerves. It also enables the tooth to be functional while the permanent restoration is created. The temporary dental work is often used in between the initial molds of the teeth and the time when the permanent replacements are made. Temporary restorations may be left in place for a few days or up to a year.
Some pre-formed temporary dental restorations may be held in place with special dental cement. Once the permanent restoration is ready to be placed in the mouth, the dentist will apply a substance that weakens the cement bonds. Most provisional dental cements are designed to adhere to the temporary restoration instead of the natural surface of the tooth, making it easier to remove when it is time to prepare the tooth for the permanent restoration.
The amount of time a temporary restoration will be left on the tooth depends on the type of dental work needed to repair the appearance and functionality of a damaged tooth. Full-mouth reconstructions could require the use of a temporary restoration for an extended period of time while the prosthetic dental device is created and the design perfected. Often, a person will be asked to wear a temporary version of the permanent appliance to determine the correct fit, usability, and the overall comfort of the wearer.
Extensive dental reconstructions may require a person to wear a temporary bridge or partial for as long as a year. The temporary appliance is usually made of a less expensive material that is easy to modify. A final version of the dental appliance is not typically completed until all necessary modifications have been made to the temporary restoration.
Most temporary restorations are made using a composite material placed within the tooth. First, the dentist will clean and prepare the damaged area of the tooth for the placement of the composite material. Then the composite material will be layered inside the tooth until the opening is filled. Once the temporary composite fills the open area of the tooth, a protective cap or crown may be placed over the composite to prevent any further damage to the tooth before the custom crown is created. A temporary crown is usually worn for two weeks in between the initial appointment and the time when the permanent restoration has been fabricated.