What is Temporary Tooth Filling: Reasons, Material Used and Cost?

Have you ever heard your dentist saying that he filled up your tooth temporarily and after some days you have to visit him for permanent restoration? If yes, then you might have asked him, why can’t he restore your tooth permanently in that visit itself, so, is it just for increasing visits or it actually has any significance with your well being. Let’s find out.

Temporary tooth filling material

What is Temporary Tooth Filling

As the name indicates, the temporary filling is the filling which is used for a short duration of time. The temporary filling can be used for various reasons, which we will discuss further, unlike the permanent filling or restoration, the temporary filling is very weak and it slowly starts getting dissolved due to the saliva.

So it is important that you must go to the clinic for the complete permanent restoration, and must not leave the treatment in the middle, just because your tooth function is restored back to normal.

What are the reasons for Temporary Filling

So, what are the reasons due to which dentists put a temporary filling in your tooth, there are various reasons for that

As Immediate Care

In case of excessive exposure of deeper layer of  the tooth, the tooth becomes extremely sensitive but it might need further evaluation before providing final restoration, in such cases the exposed area is covered by the temporary filling, it also has advantage that the excessive sensitivity will settle down which occurred due to the exposure of the deeper layers of tooth and hence it is very useful for temporary and immediate relief (zinc oxide eugenol is used to immediately relieve the pain of tooth due to decay).

Multi-step Fillings

Sometimes, the fillings need to be done in a multi-step process to judge the outcome more efficiently, hence in such cases, for some time the tooth is filled with the temporary filling. In cases of pulpotomy where the carious part is covered with the medicaments, the temporary filling is done or for the indirect restorations, in which the inlays or onlays will be provided.

Root Canal Treatment

Root canal treatment is a multistep process itself, so, up to the final procedure the temporary filling is placed. This is helpful to protect the clean canals to avoid any food particles getting inside it.

Irritating Pulp

Sometimes, the pulp ie, the nerve of the tooth is inflamed and irritated and this causes the pain in the tooth, to avoid any pain after final restoration, dentists might put the dressing and temporary filling until the nerve gets fine and permanent restoration is done after some time.

Materials used for Temporary Filling

There is various type of materials used for the temporary restoration, these materials provide protection to the pulp tissue and also have some medicament properties which help to relieve pain and heal faster. These materials are

  • Zinc oxide eugenol.
  • Zinc phosphate cement.
  • Intermediate restorative materials.
  • cavit

Zinc Oxide Eugenol

The zinc-oxide eugenol filling material is made with the combination of zinc oxide and eugenol (oil of cloves).

This is antibacterial and analgesic (reduces pain). Whenever the carious or decayed part of the tooth is removed then the pulp tissue ie, the nerve of the tooth and the surrounding tissues get irritated by the process, this causes the pain in the tooth. So, to relieve the pain and to take back the nerve tissue to normal form, the zinc oxide eugenol dressing or temporary restoration is given. This filling is allowed to stay for a week or longer and after the tooth becomes normal, then this is removed and the permanent filling is placed.

Zinc Phosphate Cements

It is another temporary filling material, this consists of zinc oxide, magnesium oxide and also the phosphoric acid, all of these are combined for the formulation of the zinc phosphate cement.

These cement are also used as the luting agents ie, they are used to cover up the layer of tooth which is closest to the nerve tissue of tooth, because it has high thermal insulating properties ie they do not allow any of the irritating material or heat producing material to leak into the deeper layer of tooth, which will prevent any irritation and pain of the tooth after the permanent restoration which can be done over it, without removing the deep layer of cement.

Intermediate Restorative Material

Intermediate restorative materials or the IRM are used as the temporary restorative material and are made to stay even up to 1 year. These are popular these days as they have wonderful response against the hypersensitive tooth, also it has an insulating effect so they can also be used as the base material in amalgam restoration (silver colored filling material) and also in inlays and onlays (these can be made of gold fillings). By providing the base the deeper layers of the tooth are protected of any irritation.


This is the self-curing material used as the temporary filling material. It works best in the moist environment and is very effective while sealing the prepared cavity for restoration.

How long does Temporary Filling Lasts

The temporary filling is called temporary because it is intended to be removed, but you might be thinking that how long can it stay in place, so the answer is four to eight weeks, mostly the temporary filling can last intact up to 4-8 weeks, after that it may start dissolving slowly or can even break due to chewing of food, so the person must take care that he does not have any hard food from that side of mouth, where filling is done.

Nowadays, IRM fillings came which can even last for a year, these are helpful when the procedure needs to break down in steps and the further treatment is planned according to the improving situation for example in root canal treatments if the person is feeling pain even after the treatment and the dentist need to re-evaluate the situation then the dentist will provide temporary restoration and patient is made to wait until the condition improves for further procedure.

Why my Temporary Filling is Broken or Displaced

Newly Placed Filling

When your dentist places the temporary filling, he might instruct you to don’t chew food from that side at least for 24 hours, this is because the filling takes time to set and in that time if excessive pressure placed over the filling, then the filling start to dissolve or break.

Hard Food

If you got a temporary filling, then you must avoid chewing hard foods to that side of the jaw, because constant pressure over the temporary filling will cause an increase in its speed of dissolution and also can cause cracks in the filling.

Hard Brushing

While brushing or flossing also, the person must be careful that they do not damage the temporary filling of the tooth.

How Dentists remove Temporary Filling

Temporary tooth filling removal

The temporary filling as we discussed is not hard enough to remove, your dentist might use the probe to dig the temporary filling and remove it or they might use burs to dig out the temporary filling material, in a nutshell, the process of temporary filling removal is easy and also do not cause any pain usually.

Will my Tooth be Damaged while the Removal of Temporary Filling

No, as the temporary fillings only need light instrumentation, there occurs no damage to the tooth surface.

How much does Temporary Filling Costs

Usually, the temporary filling is not extra work but the part of the ongoing treatment, so this doesn’t take up the extra charge. The cost depends upon the material used in the filling, as the filling material strength depends upon its types. So this was all about the temporary filling. If you want to know anything more about any specific topic, then please tell us in the comment section below.

Dr Deepak Kansal

Dr Deepak Kansal is a dentist, who is currently working in Sri Ganganagar. He did his Bachelor of Dental Surgery from Rajasthan University of Health Science.

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