In some cases, the dentist may place a temporary filling before the permanent one. It is important for patients to understand why a temporary filling may be necessary as it requires a separate visit and prolongs treatment.
What Is A Temporary Filling?
As the name implies, temporary fillings are not meant to last a long time. Temporary fillings can be soft and hard materials. A soft temporary filling lasts a short while. A hard temporary filling can last up to 3-6 months (suitable while you’re away for a long time). In some cases, the cost of a temporary filling is included in your treatment.
So, if temporary fillings don’t last long, why use them? Here are a few reasons:
1. Deep Cavity
If your tooth has a big ‘hole’, chances are, it may be close to the nerve of your tooth. As you know, if the nerve of a tooth gets damaged then you may get a toothache. When your tooth is severely damaged by decay and you’re not in pain, the dentist may prescribe a ‘temporary filling’ or ‘a dressing’ for your tooth. This is to ‘test the tooth’ for any trapped infection. If there is no infection in the tooth then you can return to the dentist and have a final filling. Otherwise, your tooth may be infected and will need further treatment. Moreover, placing a final filling in an allegedly infected tooth is not advisable.
2. Ingrown Gum
Most people prefer ‘white fillings’ these days. Patients see the benefits of white fillings (literally!). However, sometimes placing a white filling can be challenging due to complications in your gum. In some cases, the gum will grow into the cavity of the tooth thus getting in the way of the white filling. That’s why the dentist may use a temporary filling to gently push the gum away for about a week before placing a white filling.
3. Root Canal Infection
Sometimes, an infection will damage the nerve of a tooth and the patient may decide to have root canal treatment. Cleaning of the roots of an infected tooth may require more than one visit to the dentist. In order to reduce the chances of getting a cracked tooth, the dentist will use a hard temporary filling in between visits and will advise you to avoid biting on hard food (nuts, crisps, pork crackling, etc.)
Temporary fillings are not meant to last a long time. Now that you know when and why the dentist may use a temporary filling, always remember to return to the dentist to have your temporary filling replaced with a final one.