As your dentist talks you through the various stages of your upcoming dental implant procedure, it might seem like an important part of the process is being overlooked. Once the implant (a small titanium rod) is placed in your jaw, dental implants need several months of healing before they achieve the required stability to be fitted with their permanent prosthetic tooth. Does this mean that you're expected to have an extremely obvious gap in your teeth for these months? 

Not Your First Crown

The implant's permanent prosthetic tooth (called a dental crown) will be made of ceramic. Incredibly lifelike, it's going to be indistinguishable from a natural tooth. But this permanent crown isn't actually going to be your first dental crown. So you don't have to live with an obvious and potentially embarrassing gap in your smile, your dentist can provide you with a temporary dental crown.

Securing a Temporary Crown

A temporary dental crown will be cemented into place without disrupting the healing of your jawbone and gums happening beneath it. It's attached using temporary dental cement, which gives the crown sufficient strength to stay in place and handle limited duties when it comes to biting and chewing—while also being easy to remove once your dental implant has healed and is ready for a permanent crown.

Eating With a Temporary Dental Crown

Because it's not going to have the same strength as the implant's permanent crown, you need to be careful what you eat with your temporary crown. Don't overextend its capabilities, and foods that are too hard, too crunchy, or even too chewy can break the crown's temporary cement and cause it to fall out. It won't quite function like a natural tooth, or like your finished dental implant, but will it look natural?

The Look of a Temporary Dental Crown

The permanent crown is manufactured especially for you, designed and made according to the precise measurements your dentist took in the planning stages for your implant—whether they took a physical impression or made a 3D model of the tooth. Your temporary crown will be made of resin (plastic) and may be selected from stock that is already available. It will be the right shape, and a close (even perhaps exact) color match for the tooth it's temporarily replacing, but may not look 100% like its predecessor. But in the short term, and at a casual glance, it will look sufficiently natural. 

Your temporary crown has some capabilities as a replacement tooth but will be inferior to your implant's permanent crown. Remember that it's a cosmetic solution, and it's not until your permanent crown is attached that your replacement tooth will be operating at full strength. 

For more information about implants, contact a local dentist.