My dentist said I needed a crown and I was like, “I know, right?”
That’s a really common joke in the dental world. Almost like when an item at a store is missing a price tag–the cashier braces himself with a forced smile for the inevitable, “Well, it must be free then!” Silly mom jokes aside, let’s talk about that crown (or cap, as some call it). Dr. Whitehouse said you needed one but no one is calling you their Royal Highness, so what led us here?
A Super Brief Overview of Crowns
Typically, the need for a crown is caused by two main things: decay and fractures. Once a tooth has been affected by severe decay and/or fractures, a crown is recommended to preserve the structural integrity of the tooth. To do that, the doc has to remove all the decay and broken bits and then has to build a mini foundation that the crown will adhere to. The permanent fancy porcelain crown is fabricated in a lab (right here in Austin!) so while that’s getting made, the doc has to leave you with something temporary to hold the space–this is a temporary crown (or temp if you’re in the biz).
Temporary crowns are made out of an acrylic material and enable most of the normal functions of a regular tooth or crown. Since getting a crown is kind of like a mini surgery and the material of a temp crown isn’t totally heat/cold proof, sensitivity is normal. Cold sensitivity is more common but if the heat makes you jump out of your seat, we need to know. The gums are most likely to be the cause of irritation and can be alleviated with warm salt water rinses.
What to Do and What Not to Do
Stash away your almonds, granola bars, gum, taffy, or anything really crunchy, sticky, or chewy until you get your permanent crown. Also, keep the flossing extremely gentle around the crown and slide the floss between the teeth instead of popping it in and out.. No Water Pik or hydro-flossing on your temp. Your temporary crown is, well, temporary and it can pop off. If that happens, it’s not a huge deal. Call the office and we’ll get it back on.
The number one rule is to brush your teeth. Keep brushing (always and forever). Not brushing can lead to excessive bleeding and plaque buildup, which can compromise the delivery of your permanent crown.
When to Alert the Office
While sensitivity is normal, pain from pressure is not. You should be able to chew fairly normally with your temporary crown, so if you find yourself chewing on the other side of your mouth due to discomfort, let us know; this may just require a bit of an adjustment. Throbbing, aching pain that progresses should also warrant a phone call to the office.