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Concepts of Temporary Restorations

Learn how a “customized” temporary is a blueprint for success

By Dr. Brian P. LeSage

This article is endorsed by the
American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry.
Temporary dental restorations.

A great deal of time and effort has been expended by dentists to learn and understand how to create excellent temporary restorations, a very important facet of the creative and artistic side of cosmetic and restorative dentistry. There are distinct differences between temporaries that are used in limited situations, and those that are used to restore natural form and function to the teeth before the final restorations are made. The latter is referred to as “customized” temporary restorations and provide significant advantages over the more quickly made shorter-term temporaries.

Customized temporary restorations (referred to by dentists as prototypes or provisionals) provide both dental professionals and the patients they serve with the ability to determine exactly how final crowns or veneers will look and function prior to both fabricating or placing permanent restorations. Think of customized temporaries as trial restorations that provide a preview that can be modified until they look and feel just right. They really are blueprints for success.

Custom-Made Or “Off-The-Rack”

Temporary dental restorations.

The difference between a routine temporary crown and a customized one is almost like the difference between a custom-made suit and one purchased “off-the-rack.” A custom-made suit, or customized temporary crown in our analogy, is hand-tailored to your specifications and guaranteed to fit, look good and wear well. The suit you bought “off-the-rack” (temporary crown) is less likely to look great, fit as well and hold up over time.

Restorations, such as crowns or veneers, which require fabrication in a laboratory setting, necessitate temporary coverage of the prepared teeth (teeth that have been contoured in preparation for crowns or veneers). The temporary coverage is designed to protect the underlying prepared tooth structure, reduce sensitivity, stabilize tooth positions and maintain gum health. Customized temporaries do all of the aforementioned in addition to acting as a tool to finalize the aesthetic and functional requirements for each patient. The more significant the changes made from the patient's presenting situation, the more critical the information gained from customized temporary restorations becomes to the success of the final outcome.

Think Of It As A Process

Designed to meet high expectations of individuals — especially when aesthetics is critical — a customized temporary restoration is paramount to success. This fact is especially true when it comes to a smile makeover. Let's briefly recap the smile design or makeover process that has been discussed in previous issues of Dear Doctor. It begins with a smile analysis. This is a careful assessment of both the current conditions of the individual's smile, together with his or her concerns, requests and expectations for the makeover. The smile design can then be configured based on collaboration between the individual, the dentist and the dental laboratory technician.

As part of the process, customized temporaries are created based on these parameters. The process may be used for a single tooth; however it is a necessity when multiple teeth are involved that require changing the bite.