What is a temporary filling?

A temporary filling is a filling that has been placed to seal a tooth until a final filling can be placed. It is generally a soft material that has been placed into the tooth to fill a broken area or area of decay. It can be replaced later with a silver (amalgam) or white (composite) filling. Temporary fillings are generally done when a tooth needs to be evaluated or time is not available for a final restoration (amalgam or composite).
If your dentist is filling a cavity, you could get a temporary filling before you get the permanent one. A temporary filling is more commonly done when you have a deep cavity and the dentist wants to work on the tooth to remove all the decay. It may take longer than one appointment to get the decay out of the cavity or your dentist may want to give the tooth time to recover. Once the temporary filling is applied it will cover the exposed part of the tooth and you will not feel any pain from hot and cold things. Some temporary fillings contain soothing ingredients that help to ease tooth pain.

A temporary filling is an intermediate filling that may be placed for a variety of reasons that may include:

  • emergency care
  • urgency care
  • to relieve sensitivity and allow for further evaluation of the tooth
  • following root canal treatment, prior to definitive restoration
  • extensive decay where immediate "final" restoration is not indicated at the time and further evaluation is indicated at a later date

There are reasons to place a temporary restoration. It is not routinely done and has an important purpose.

Sometimes your dental visit to receive a filling will require more than one appointment. When that happens, your dentist will fit you with a temporary filling so that your teeth will not shift and your bite will not be affected while you wait for your permanent restoration. When your tooth is being prepped for a dental crown, a temporary filling is placed in the crown opening to keep saliva out. Antibiotics may be prescribed if an infection is present and has spread beyond the end of the roots.




Continue Learning about Dental Fillings

What is the purpose of dental fillings?
Dental fillings plug up cavities in your teeth, enabling you to eat normally again without discomfor...
More Answers
Should I get my fillings checked regularly?
Dr. Benjamin S Fiss DDSDr. Benjamin S Fiss DDS
Many people feel that they should only go to the dentist when there is pain. However, problems may e...
More Answers
What are the disadvantages of gold tooth fillings?
Jonathan B. Levine, DMDJonathan B. Levine, DMD
There are several disadvantages of gold tooth fillings: It’s more expensive than other materials...
More Answers
Why may I need dental fillings?
American Dental AssociationAmerican Dental Association
A dental filling is needed when you have a cavity. Tooth decay creates a cavity, which is a hole in ...
More Answers

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.