Temporary Tooth Filling
Temporary dental fillings are used to temporarily restore damaged teeth while waiting for a permanent solution, sometimes for several weeks if not more. Dentists use temporary fillings following root canal treatments, and they may also use a temporary tooth filling if a patient is waiting for a dental crown or gold filling that is being crafted in a lab. Temporary fillings are made of softer materials than permanent fillings, making them easier to place and remove, and they’re intended to stay in place until they’re taken out by a dentist and replaced with a permanent filling. They are designed to keep the tooth protected for a short time and aren’t expected to last forever, so you’ll want to pay attention to keeping your temporary filling in place, and, if your temporary filling falls out, you should see your dentist right away.
There are several situations where a dentist might use a temporary filling. If you have a cavity that’s causing you substantial pain and your dentist doesn’t have the availability to put in a permanent filling at that exact time, you might get a temporary filling to help reduce pain while you wait to have the cavity fully treated. If you have a cavity that requires a dental crown, your dentist might use a temporary filling to protect the tooth while the dental crown is being created by the dental manufacturing team. When a patient has a root canal, dentists often rely on temporary fillings to seal holes in the once-infected tooth and prevent bacteria from entering them and creating additional infection. Once the root canal has healed and infection is managed, the dentist will replace the temporary filling with a more durable permanent one.
Dentists also apply medication to temporary tooth fillings to treat sensitive nerves, giving the nerves time to heal before the permanent filling is placed. If you require multiple dental treatments, your dentist might also use temporary fillings to keep the teeth protected between visits as they perform combined treatments over the course of several weeks, rather than placing individual permanent fillings at each visit and adding to overall treatment time.
Temporary fillings are sensitive, so you’ll want to eat carefully when you have one, and avoid eating entirely as your mouth recovers from local anesthesia when it’s used. Dentists recommend avoiding the area of the temporary filling while eating for at least the first 24 hours after receiving one and observing overall guidelines for the time the temporary filling is in place. Avoiding hard foods like nuts and candy can protect temporary fillings, and sticky foods like gum and even peanut butter can dislodge temporary fillings and should be avoided. Try to avoid biting down too hard on the side of your mouth that has the temporary filling when you do eat, and follow your dentist’s instructions for keeping the area clean, too. It’s a good idea to continue to brush the teeth, including the one with the temporary filling, brushing gently and with a soft-bristled brush, but be careful flossing, especially if the filling is at the edge of the tooth; it’s possibly to snag the floss and dislodge the filling. If your filling does fall out, or if you think it’s damaged, contact your dentist; they’ll be able to reaffix or repair it and send you on your way to wait for a perfect permanent fix.