QUESTION: Hi Dr. Backlund,
After a root canal or a retreatment of a root canal, when endodontists put a temporary filling in your tooth, how long does that temporary filling lasts for? My dentist is out of town for about 2 months and I was wondering if my temporary filling would be okay until then? I'm just a bit worried because I heard my endodontist saying that the temporary filling should be replaced within a few weeks. His notes were "After the endodontic treatment has been completed, please contact your dentist immediately for the next available appointment regarding the final restoration on your tooth. If the tooth is left unattended, leakage through the visible (chewing) portion of your tooth will contribute to the failure of your root canal treatment. If root canal is left exposed to saliva, leakage will compromise the canal seal and the tooth may require root canal retreatment due to re-infection." After reading that statement I'm a bit worried. So if I don't change my temporary filling, there will be leakage leading to the failure of a root canal? I'm just worried and not sure what to do now. Thank you.
ANSWER: Hi Wanda,
Unfortunately, everything that was said by your endodontist is exactly true. However, it also depends on the type of temporary that was placed in the tooth and there really are several types....some lasting longer than others. I would suggest that you call your endodontist, explain what you have told me and ask REALLY how long you can go with the temporary he has put in. If there is any question, I would suggest that you contact who ever is on call for your dentist and see if that person can get you in for a filling replacement. It shouldn't be a big deal, expensive or require much time. That would provide you with the assurance that your root canal will be protected and all will be well.
Hope this helps....
Gary Backlund DMD, MSD
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Oh I see. Do you know after a root canal, even if we opt for a crown, would a permanent filling still need to be placed in order to get the crown, or does it go straight from a temporary filling and and all they do is remove it and just put the crown around it? If they still need a permanent filling, regardless of crown or not, then I may have to consider going somewhere else just to place a permanent filling and get a crown later when my dentist comes back. Thank you.
It is rare to leave a temporary filling in place when doing a crown. They are just not very strong and can compromise the stability of the crown, so you will probably need that filling replaced. Your safest bet would be to get the permanent filling done now, then the crown when you regular dentist comes back. 2 months is a bit long for a temporary filling to hold up, but since I don't know what type of temporary was placed, I am only talking in general terms.
Gary Backlund DMD, MSD