You can and you should floss while you're wearing a temporary crown because it keeps the area clean and prevents gum inflammation. However, there is the right way to floss and also the wrong way to do it.
If you attempt to clean in between the teeth the wrong way while flossing, there will be dire consequences, namely teeth sensitivity. We will teach you how to do it properly so you don't accidentally pop off the temp before your permanent crown comes back.
How to floss a temporary crown
The best way to properly floss temporary crowns without any adverse effects is using string floss but with one slight modification. After you're done flossing, you don't pull the floss up because you're supposed to pull it out through the side instead.
How to floss it:
Floss through the temporary crown.
Hug the temp in a C-shape and go up and down the side of it.
Now pull the floss out to the side (NOT UP).
Repeat steps #1-3 with the other side of the temporary cap.
Below is a video demonstration of what we mean by pulling the floss out through out the side and not upwards.
Key point: You should NOT pull the floss up to get it out. You should pull the floss out through the side towards your cheek instead.
That's it, it's literally that simple. Just one simple modification at the end.
Does the type of floss matter?
You can use whatever type of floss you want but our preferred floss which we recommend to patients at our dental practice would be the PTFE material. It looks like a piece of tape and a lot of companies call it "silk floss" since it is so smooth.
We like this material more than the braided flosses is because it is thinner and less likely to get stuck in between the teeth. It also doesn't shred which is a big plus.
Type of floss you shouldn't use
You should avoid all types of floss that are thick or multi-layered braided.
These types often get stuck and will shred. They also have the highest likelihood of loosening the temporary cap accidentally.
Should you floss?
If you're able to floss the way that we showed you, we highly recommend that you continue flossing while having the temporary crown on. It helps for a more pleasant and cleaner visit when you get your permanent cap cemented on next visit.
Benefits to flossing the temporary cap:
Cleanliness. Food getting stuck between your teeth can be uncomfortable.
Reduced gum bleeding. We all know that if you don't floss for a few days, the gums start becoming inflamed and angry looking. This can cause a lot of gum bleeding.
Easier next appointment. If your gums are healthy, it makes for a much smoother crown insertion appointment. Generally if the gums are bleeding a lot, your dentist needs to get it to stop bleeding before they can glue it in. Blood mixed with permanent cement won't last very long!
With all that being said, the primary reason we want you to floss is because of an easier crown cementation appointment. It's really a hassle when we have to try to control your gum bleeding because that just adds extra time to the visit.
Dos & Don'ts
Here are some general guidelines as for what you should and shouldn't do while you're flossing with a temporary crown in your mouth.
Use string floss only.
Pull floss out through the side.
Keep the temporary crown area clean.
The water flosser is cleared for use.
Avoid floss picks.
Avoid proxy brushes.
Don't pull the floss up.
Why picks and brushes are bad
While we do endorse using floss picks and proxy brushes, you shouldn't use them while you've a temporary cap on your tooth. They increase the risk of you dislodging the temp.
The floss pick does not allow you to pull it out through the side. It forces you to pull up to remove it and this increases the chance of you dislodging the temporary.
The proxy brush can sometimes hook underneath of the temp and you may pop it off accidentally.
Tooth picks... well, there isn't a single dentist out there that would recommend using toothpicks on a regular basis. Nonetheless, the reason now to use them is similar to why you shouldn't use the proxy brush.
Consequence of incorrect flossing
The major adverse effect of flossing your temporary crown the wrong way is the possibility of accidentally popping it off your tooth. This is how you end up with a fallen off temporary crown.
How it happens: Typically how the temporary comes off is if you happen to hook the floss underneath of a lip or ledge of the crown and then you pull the floss up. Essentially it catches underneath of this overhang and flips it off your tooth!
End result: After your temp has come off, what you will most likely feel is sensitivity. The purpose of having the temporary cap aside from aesthetics is to protect the exposed tooth.
Ultimately, you can potentially floss out your temporary tooth cap because your dentist glued it in with temporary glue. The reason we don't use permanent cement is because we still need to remove it so that we can place your permanent crown on afterwards.
Flossing other temporaries
Everything that we've said about flossing your temporary crown also applies to flossing other types of temporary restorations. If you can floss through, besure to pull it out through the side. Do not for whatever reason pull up because you can dislodge the restoration.
You won't be able to floss through temporary bridges in the traditional way. You would need to use floss threaders or superfloss to do it. Both of these do encourage you to pull the floss back out the side.
Definitely floss very carefully while you have veneers on since these tend to fall off very easily, much more so than crowns. The reason is because there is only glue on half of the tooth as opposed to the entire tooth for a crown.
The same rule applies for flossing veneers, pull the floss out through the side.
If for whatever reason that you have a temporary filling in your tooth, we actually recommend against flossing whatsoever. These restorations are not glued or bonded in at all so they will come out very easily.
Temporary onlays & inlays
For temporary onlays and inlays, you can floss but just remember to pull the floss out towards the cheek or lips. Do not pull the floss up, the same way that you came in.
General aftercare instructions
Flossing is just one step of the temporary tooth cap aftercare protocol. Below are additional instructions which you should follow.
Brushing. You should still brush the temporary just like every other tooth in your mouth. There is absolutely no reason for you to avoid doing so. Brushing won't increase the likelihood of you dislodging it.
Avoid sticky foods. Foods that are sticky like laffy taffy, caramel or chewing gum have a high possibility of pulling the temp off. These are even more effective for removing temps than flossing it!
Avoid hard foods. All temp crowns are made of acrylic so they aren't the sturdiest material. It is similar to the acrylic nails that a lot of women wear. The similarity between them is that they break very easily so please do try to minimize eating extremely hard foods.
The one thing we want you to take away from this entire article is to pull the floss out through the side. Please do not pull the floss back up the same way you flossed through. Doing so will increase the chances of you dislodging the temp.