Have you ever heard the saying, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”? Just as it took time to construct a city as beautiful as Rome, it takes time to construct a beautiful smile. This is partially due to the fact that many restorations used for cosmetic dentistry are indirect restorations, meaning that they are fabricated in a dental lab before being placed in the mouth. In fact, composite fillings and cosmetic bonding are the only two cosmetic dental restorations that are direct restorations, or those that can be completed entirely within the mouth.
To place an indirect restoration, such as a crown, bridge, inlay, onlay, or veneers, you can expect to undergo two dental appointments. The first appointment is used to remove any decayed or damaged tissue and then to shape the tooth in order to properly fit the restoration. During the first appointment, your cosmetic dentist will also take a dental impression or oral scan. This information is sent to a dental lab and is used to customize your restoration. The second appointment is needed to fit and cement the permanent restoration in place.
In between the first and second appointment, you will need to wear a temporary restoration. Temporary restorations are important from many reasons including:
Protecting the Tooth
One main reason for a temporary restoration is that it protects your tooth until the permanent restoration can be placed. During your first appointment, your tooth’s natural structure will be modified. Depending on the amount of decayed or damaged tissue that was removed, you may have areas of exposed dentin or very thin enamel. Both exposed dentin and thin enamel can cause tooth sensitivity, and can increase the risk of developing a possible pulp infection. By placing a temporary restoration, your dentist is able to protect your teeth and decrease these risks.
Maintaining Eating and Speaking Abilities
Any changes to the size or shape of your teeth can affect the way air flows through your mouth when you speak. As a result, certain alterations can make it difficult to speak properly. Additionally, teeth that have been reduced in size can also make chewing or biting difficult since you are not used to that particular tooth being a different size. Having a temporary restoration placed helps to maintain a natural tooth shape in order to maintain proper speech, as well as the ability to bite and chew.
In some cases, a temporary restoration is needed to maintain space for the permanent restoration. This is especially important when a dental bridge is being placed to restore one or more missing teeth. Temporary restorations ensure that the teeth remain in their normal position so that there is enough room for the permanent restoration. Without a temporary restoration, there is a chance that the permanent restoration may not fit in with the rest of the teeth.
Maintaining Gum line
Along with maintaining the right amount of space for the permanent restoration, temporary restorations are also important to maintain your gum line. This is because your gum line may change in response to the alterations made to your tooth. However, your cosmetic dentist wants to preserve your natural gum line so that the permanent restoration will have a natural appearance when placed. Placing a temporary restoration allows your gums to continue to fall in the same place, which prevents the contour from changing.
The final reason your cosmetic dentist places a temporary restoration is so that you can sample your results. However, it is important to keep in mind that temporary restorations are much lower quality than your permanent restoration will be. Nevertheless, temporary restorations still allow you to preview the look, feel, and fit of your restoration.
Dr. Gerard J. Lemongello Jr. graduated from the University of Florida College of Dentistry and has been in private practice since 1987. His focus is on cosmetic and comprehensive restorative rehabilitative dentistry. He is a member of the American Dental Association, Florida Dental Association and Academy of General Dentistry, and is an accredited member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry.