A temporary dental filling is usually applied to a tooth that will later receive more permanent treatment for conditions such as large cavities or tooth infections that require root canals. These teeth fillings generally last only a few weeks, and most dentists prefer to apply permanent fillings within a short time frame after a patient receives this type of filling. The typical temporary filling is made from synthetic material made of zinc oxide and clove oil that is effective at relieving the pain associated with common tooth problems. Most dentists advise treating these tooth fillings with caution until permanent ones can be applied.
Dental patients with tooth decay that requires a root canal will often receive a temporary dental filling at their first appointment. The filling will help to protect infected tooth pulp from further bacterial invasion, and it will often keep the tooth from cracking due to weakness from the infection. Temporary filling material is usually a thick cement-like paste that cures shortly after being applied to the tooth. Some dentists may also apply a temporary filling to a tooth just after a root canal in order to protect it until any normal swelling diminishes. These temporary fillings are typically removed at a follow-up appointment about one to two weeks after a root canal.
Some dentists prefer to first treat some cavities with a temporary filling after removing some of the tooth decay. This approach is usually done for cavities that are large and decayed enough to run the risk of further tooth damage if a permanent filling is applied right away. Permanent dental fillings can sometimes trap decay deeper in the tooth with this kind of cavity and can result in a painful tooth abscess. Patients with signs of a tooth abscess are generally not good candidates for either type of tooth filling and usually need more intensive treatment to counter this kind of infection.
The average procedure for applying a temporary dental filling is done with a local anesthetic injection if the patient is experiencing noticeable discomfort. When this type of filling is done correctly, it should completely seal off the infected tooth from any bacteria that may be in the surrounding month area. Since the anesthetic creates short-term numbness after the temporary filling is completed, dentists usually advise their patients to treat their filling carefully. These kinds of measures often include chewing food on the opposite side as the temporary dental filling for at least the first day.