When having a dental restoration placed, the type of restoration will affect how many appointments are needed. You see, there are two types of dental restorations: direct and indirect. Direct restorations are those that can be completed “directly” in the mouth and will usually only require a single appointment. An example of a direct restoration are composite fillings. Conversely, indirect restorations are those that require the additional step of needing to be fabricated by a dental lab. Because of this extra step, indirect restorations generally take two appointments.
Indirect restorations include crowns, bridges, inlays, onlays, and veneers. When one of these restorations is being placed, the first appointment is used to prepare the tooth by removing damaged or decayed tissue and then reshaping the remaining enamel. To provide the dental lab with the necessary information to fabricate the restoration, a dental impression or oral scan is then taken. The final step is to place a temporary restoration.
A temporary restoration is worn for the time frame between your first and second appointments. It will then be removed during your second appointment so that the permanent restoration can be placed. Temporary restorations are essential for various reasons, including:
To Act as a Placeholder
Once your tooth has been prepared for a dental restoration, it will be a different size and/or shape. When there is suddenly space in the mouth, the surrounding teeth change their position slightly to fill in this space. However, if this happens then the permanent restoration may no longer fit. This is especially important when replacing a missing tooth with a dental bridge. Thus, a temporary restoration can be used as a placeholder to guarantee there is enough space for the permanent restoration.
To Protect the Tooth
Part of preparing your tooth for a dental restoration involves removing decayed tissue, as well as some healthy tissue in order to shape the tooth to fit a restoration. Because of this, you may have areas where the enamel is very thin or where the dentin is exposed. Both thin enamel and exposed dentin are associated with tooth sensitivity, but they can also allow bacteria to enter the tooth and cause a pulp infection. Therefore, a temporary restoration is also used as a protective barrier to the natural tooth structure.
To Preserve the Natural Gum Line
Placing a temporary restoration also helps to preserve the way that the gums fit around the tooth. Although you wouldn’t normally think of this being important, preserving the way the gums contour around the tooth gives the permanent restoration a natural appearance. Without a temporary, the gum position can change and make the final restoration stand out more.
To Maintain Function
The two main functions of your teeth are eating and speaking. However, when one or more teeth are altered for a dental restoration, these two functions can be negatively affected. For starters, chewing becomes more difficult and so can speaking properly, especially if you have multiple teeth that have been altered. Using a temporary restoration maintains the same type of function until the permanent restoration can be placed.
To Offer a Preview
One final reason for placing a temporary restoration is that it offers you a preview of the final results. By wearing the temporary restoration, you can get accustomed to the look, feel, and fit of your new restoration before the permanent restoration is placed. Keep in mind, however, that your permanent restoration will be made from high quality materials and will be more durable than your temporary.