If your temporary crown falls off, you may or may not be able to leave it off but it all depends on your tooth's specific condition. There are some situations where leaving it off can be harmless while other times it is not advisable.
The purpose of this article is to explain what all of these situations are and whether or not you should leave it off. If you can't leave it off, you should try to get an appointment with your dentist as promptly as possible to have it glued back on.
Table of Contents:
When you can leave the temporary crown off
The only situations where you can leave the temporary off is if the tooth is asymptomatic without it on. This means that with it off, you're not feeling any sensitivity or pain. That is the major determining factor for when you're able to go about your life without a temporary crown glued in.
These are the three conditions where it may be possible to not have the temporary crown back on your tooth:
Are there any downsides to not gluing the temporary back on?
The major downside to not gluing the temporary crown back on is that it may potentially make your next appointment longer. The subsequent visit is to try in and permanently glue in the real crown.
By leaving the temporary off, your teeth may potentially shift a little and that may make the permanent crown not fit as well. It is not a huge deal if your next appointment is not too far away because your dentist can simply adjust the crown to make it fit. They would just polish off some of the tight spots and then it should fit.
Of course, you can avoid all of this if you have the temp glued back in. It would definitely shorten the appointment and save you some time.
Related content: Here is our guide on what to do if your temporary crown has fallen off.
Root canal treated
If your tooth had a root canal on it, it is most likely fine to not have the temporary crown on it. This is because the root canal procedure removes the nerve from the tooth, which means that it is no longer alive. In other words, it shouldn't feel any pain or sensitivity on it, with or without any temporary on it.
In the picture above, it shows what the inside of a tooth looks like after a root canal has been completed. The nerve was extracted and then the inside of the canal was replaced by a canal filling material called gutta percha, which looks pink.
No more nerves means no more feelings nor sensations. You'll most likely be able to function normally such as eating and chewing even without the temporary.
If the tooth in question is a back tooth, you may be less concerned about whether or not you have a temporary crown covering it. Other people usually don't see your back teeth so it is not a cosmetic concern. You can most likely go about your day without a temporary crown on the back tooth and no one would even notice.
The photo above is just to demonstrate to you, how in order to see the furthest back teeth your dentist needs to pull your cheeks away. If your cheeks didn't get pulled out of the way, you wouldn't even be able to see the teeth in the back. This is what prevents it from becoming a cosmetic concern.
Last but not least, this is of course only if that back tooth doesn't bother you without a temporary. If it is sensitive you may want to try gluing it back on or going back in to see your dentist.
Permanent crown appointment is in less than 2 weeks
If you already have your permanent crown appointment scheduled and it is not too far away, you can probably make it through without a temporary. It may be a little bit of an inconvenience to not have a temp but if it's only for a short while you'll be okay.
Inversely, if your next appointment was months away then it may not be the brightest idea to go without the temporary for such a long time. Something could happen to the tooth since there is no protection on it.
The farther away your appointment is, the more chances of something bad happening to your unprotected tooth increases. Inversely, the same could be said for appointments right around the corner. The less you have to wait the less chances of something to happen to it.
When you shouldn't leave the temporary crown off
Unfortunately there are many more situations where you shouldn't leave the temporary crown off when compared to when you can do it. The major determining factor for when you can't leave it off is if it is symptomatic (it causes you pain or sensitivity).
Situations where it is not a good idea to go without a temporary:
What you should do if it comes off and you can't leave it off
You only have two options for gluing the temporary crown back on. One is a DIY home remedy while the other is a professional dental visit.
Glue it back in with a temporary repair kit.
Have your dentist glue it back in.
Painful or sensitive
The most obvious reason is if the temp falls off and your tooth just hurts. It hurts whenever cold air touches it or whenever you are trying to eat. Both of these are very valid reasons for you to glue the temporary crown back on.
It is absolutely senseless to try to wait out the wait until your permanent crown appointment. No one wants you to suffer and that includes your dentist.
What you should do is try to get an appointment with your dentist and have them put it back on. If you absolutely can't or are unable to, you can try to purchase a temporary glue kit from your local pharmacy. Once you reglue it back on, the symptoms should subside almost immediately.
Tooth is vital
Another reason to glue the temp back on is if the tooth is still alive. This is usually the case if the tooth never had a root canal on it and that means that the tooth still has its nerves in there. Most of the time, a vital tooth will be extremely sensitive when it is left exposed without a temporary covering.
Even if the vital tooth does not hurt, you may still want to have it covered. Without any protection, the tooth is more exposed to outside elements and stimuli. You don't want it to become irritated and end up needing a root canal.
If the tooth ends up dying and needing a root canal, that would only add to treatment complexity as well as cost. Those are additional procedures and expenses which you could've avoided if you just glued the temporary crown back on.
Regardless of whether or not the tooth without a temporary crown on it hurts, if it involves your front tooth you will want to have it glued back on for cosmetic reasons. No one wants to walk around with half a front tooth, a broken temporary front tooth, or a missing front temporary. That is a serious cosmetic emergency.
The picture above is just to demonstrate what it looks like with and without your front teeth covered. It is NOT pretty to look at if you have your front teeth shaved down and without any temporary crowns on.
Permanent crown appointment is months away
If your permanent crown appointment is not until many weeks or months away, you may want to have the temporary back on rather than not. The reason is because a lot of things can happen in that span of time while you're waiting for the permanent to come in.
You could bite into something hard and crack the tooth and that would be catastrophic. You don't want an exposed and unprotected tooth to crack in half. If that happens, the permanent crown would be useless because the tooth can no longer be saved.
All fractured teeth will need an extraction and that changes the entire treatment plan. That means it will require a lot more treatment visits, time, and additional cost. All of that could've been avoided if you simply glued the temp back in!
Last but not least, if you're getting veneers done you should definitely have the temporary put back on. This procedure is usually done on teeth that are still alive and also front teeth. This makes it a double whammy because it means the teeth will be sensitive and it'll also be a cosmetic concern. Both of those are valid reasons to have a temporary put back on.
The photo above shows a veneer that cracked in half. It is definitely a cosmetic concern to have a temporary veneer come off completely or break in half. Your front teeth are front and center when you smile so that makes them the most aesthetic teeth when it comes to your smile.
Our recommendation is to NOT leave it as is so you should try to schedule an appointment with your dentist to have it fixed promptly. We really do not wish it upon you and have you walk around with a damaged or missing front tooth.
Sometimes you can leave the temporary crown off while other times you shouldn't leave it be. It mostly depends on whether or not it hurts you to be without it. Aside from that if it is a cosmetic concern, you should try to glue it back on as well.
Nonetheless, when in doubt you should just call your dentist and let them know that the temp fell off. They'll let you know what you should do. The fix for it is usually simple and pretty quick so there is no reason why you shouldn't just give them a call.
Check out our temporary crown guide which goes much more in depth about the topic.