A temporary crown is a tooth-shaped cap that protects a natural tooth or implant until your permanent crown can be made and cemented into place.

Because temporary crowns are more delicate than permanent ones, it’s important to take extra care when flossing or chewing while you have a temporary crown in place.

Read on to learn more about why you may need a temporary crown, and how to ensure that it doesn’t crack or come loose before it’s replaced with a permanent one.

Temporary crowns are used when a natural tooth requires a traditional permanent crown.

Because a permanent crown takes a few weeks to be made to your specifications, your dentist will put a temporary crown in place until the permanent one is ready.

A temporary crown is used to:

  • protect the natural tooth (or implant site) and gums
  • allow you to smile normally without a gap
  • limit any tooth or gum sensitivity
  • maintain the proper spacing between your teeth
  • help you chew and eat
  • help the dentist assess how the crown will function

A temporary crown may cover an implant or a tooth with a root canal, or a tooth that’s been repaired. It can be used for any single tooth, or it can be a bridge over more than one implant or tooth.

Some dental offices may have the computer capability and equipment to make a crown in one day, but in most cases it will take at least a week or two to create a permanent crown.

Your temporary crown will likely be in place for 2 to 3 weeks or more.

How long you have the temporary crown depends on the extent of dental work that’s needed.

Implants, for example, may require a few weeks to several months for the bone to heal before a permanent crown can be placed over them.

The shape and color of your temporary crown will be similar to your natural teeth.

Your dentist may use computer imaging technology to select a shape for the permanent crown that will fit your mouth perfectly. Or the dentist will make an impression of your existing teeth as a guide to making the permanent crown.

Your dentist will also make sure to carefully match the shade of your permanent crown to that of your other teeth.

But the temporary crown may not be as perfect, mainly because it’s not meant to stay in place for more than a few weeks. Also, the color may not be as well matched to your other teeth because of the materials that are used for a temporary crown.

Your temporary crown is glued in with temporary cement. It should be fully functional, so you can chew normally. However, because the glue isn’t meant to hold the tooth in place permanently, it’s best to avoid chewing on hard, tough, or sticky foods.

It’s also a good idea to avoid sugary foods. Your temporary crown may have a gap between the crown and the gum line. This means that sugar could find its way under the crown and cause decay.

Here are some foods to avoid while you have a temporary crown:

  • steak or tough meat
  • hard or crusty bread or bagels
  • hard or crunchy fresh vegetables, like raw baby carrots
  • hard or crunchy fresh fruits, like apples
  • corn on the cob
  • chewing gum
  • popcorn
  • nuts
  • hard candy
  • caramel
  • ice

Also try to avoid very hot or very cold foods, which may affect how well the cement keeps the temporary crown in place.

Taking care of your temporary crown requires a little extra care.

You’ll need to be careful while flossing so as not to dislodge the temporary crown. Try sliding the floss gently in and out, instead of pulling it down.

You also may have to brush the area more gently.

It’s important to keep up your oral hygiene routine and to keep the area around your temporary crown clean.

Advice from a dentist

Kenneth Rothschild, DDS, FAGD, PLLC, has 40 years of experience as a general dentist and is a member of the Academy of General Dentistry and Seattle Study Club. He’s been awarded a Fellowship in the Academy, and he’s completed mini-residences in prosthodontics and orthodontics.

Here’s what Rothschild told Healthline about temporary crowns:

It should be emphasized that temporary crowns are made from relatively weak plastics (ethyl methacrylates, bisacrylics, among others) and should be treated with care.

In addition, they’re cemented in place with a weakened temporary cement that’s purposely designed not to last long. The temporary crown needs to be removed in 1 to 3 weeks, and thus the weak temporary cements may occasionally fail before your scheduled follow-up visit.

Patients should be careful to avoid chewing sticky substances like candy and gum and exert caution when flossing near the temporary crowns.

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The best thing to do if your temporary crown comes off is to call your dentist for an appointment to reglue the temporary. The same applies if your temporary is lost. Your dentist is likely to replace it with another temporary crown.

It’s important not to leave the space in your mouth empty, because the tooth or gum underneath the crown could become damaged or infected. Also, it may throw your bite off, causing problems for the permanent restoration.

Crowns — both temporary and permanent — are an investment in the health and proper functioning of your mouth. Keeping the temporary in place protects your investment.

A temporary crown is designed to be a placeholder until your permanent crown is created and cemented into place. It will look similar to your other teeth, although not as perfectly matched to your teeth as your permanent crown will be.

The temporary isn’t as robust as a permanent crown, so you need to take a little extra care.

Avoid biting into hard or sticky foods, and go gently with flossing and brushing.