Temporary Filling – What is It and How Do You Maintain It?

A temporary filling is a substitute for a short time before we get our permanent teeth filling. Although the filling is temporary, we must take proper care so that it is retained until the next dental visit. We often get a temporary filling by our dentist after a dental treatment.

Temporary fillings follow Root canal therapy, Deep cavity treatments, Teeth reduction before placement of crowns or veneers, etc.


The temporary dental filling contains Eugenol which is a soothing and numbing agent. Eugenol in the temporary filling reduces the irritated tooth and gum tissue.

A temporary dental filling has different forms like Zinc oxide Eugenol paste, Perio packs, and dressings. Maintaining the temporary filling in our mouth is essential until the next dental visit.

Temporary dental filling protects our teeth from further damage and blocks off debris from entering a cleaned cavity.

It is easy to maintain a temporary dental filling with minor dietary changes and a few precautions. So, let’s see in details about a temporary dental filling, when we get it and how to take care of it.

What is a temporary filling?

A temporary filling is a paste containing Zinc Oxide and Eugenol. It is a transition step from the treatment of our teeth to the permanent filling. It is placed in our teeth after a dentist completes a dental procedure.

Some forms of temporary dental filling are – Zinc oxide Eugenol paste, Perio pack, Formaldehyde dressing, etc. These various forms of temporary filling sit on our teeth and gums before they get replaced by a more permanent solution like a crown, veneer or composite bonding.

You may ask, “If the filling is temporary then why should we take care of it?”

It is essential to maintain a temporary dental filling until we get our teeth fixed permanently because our teeth are fragile after a treatment.

After a root canal treatment, teeth reduction or a deep cavity cleanup, our tooth becomes fragile and susceptible to fracture.

If a dentist cleans a deep cavity and leaves you without a temporary dental filling, there may be some complications. There may be debris accumulation in the cleaned cavity. The teeth might even fracture due to lost support.

It is not always feasible that a permanent restoration or crown to be placed immediately after treatment. Permanent crowns and restorations are fabricated in a dental lab and need at least two days.

Hence, it is essential to have and maintain a temporary filling until we see our dentist next time. (1)

When do we get a temporary filling?

Our dentist might give us a temporary filling after the following dental treatments-

  • Deep cavity preparations – the temporary filling is carried until the permanent filling is prepared in the lab. Eugenol is given in this case as it soothes our teeth for the time being.
  • After a root canal treatment – before a crown is placed, a root canal is often sealed off with a temporary filling to check if there is any pain or discomfort after the treatment.
  • After gingival surgery – Perio pack containing Eugenol is given after a gingivectomy to soothe the inflamed gums.
  • Before veneer placement and tooth bonding – Zinc oxide Eugenol is placed on teeth after tooth reduction. It soothes the tooth and makes time for fabrication of the veneers.

Precautions to take for a temporary dental filling

Although a temporary filling comes out easily, it is easy to maintain it for up to a week easily. Let’s see how-

Oral hygiene regimen with a temporary dental filling


After you get a temporary dental filling, you may be concerned about brushing your teeth. It’s fine to brush the filled tooth the same way you brush your other teeth as long as you are gentle.

To be safe, use a soft-bristled toothbrush, and brush gently. Brush gently but thoroughly because you don’t want debris around the treated teeth. (2)


Flossing around the newly filled tooth may be difficult. If the filling reaches the sides of your tooth, be careful while you floss.

Instead of pulling the thread up when you remove the floss from between your teeth, pull it out from the side. Doing this will prevent the floss from snagging on the temporary filling and pulling it out.

As long as you are careful, your temporary dental filling will withstand until your next visit to the dentist.

Dietary precautions

Your dentist will tell you that, you should avoid chewing with the side of your mouth that holds the temporary filling. That is true since temporary dental fillings are fragile but what to eat?

Dos – what can we eat?

  • Have fluids
  • Smoothies and yogurt
  • Soft food like bananas and mashed potatoes
  • Ice cream or frozen food to soothe our gums and teeth

Don’ts – what to avoid?

  • Avoid extremely hard food substances like nuts
  • Avoid chewy food
  • Avoid sticky food
  • Avoid excessively sweet food
  • Avoid hot beverages
  • Avoid staining food substances and drinks like wine and coffee

How long can a temporary dental filling last?

A temporary dental filling is made to last for a few weeks. So, you need to return to your dentist after a specified period. If you fail to see your dentist on the said date, the filled tooth might crack resulting in gum infection and tooth decay. (3)

The permanent filling can seal off the tooth to prevent bacteria from going inside and thrive. But the temporary filling doesn’t offer the same protection as the permanent filling. Thus, it must be replaced in time to avoid losing your tooth.

The maximum duration for which a temporary filling can last if it maintained adequately is up to 1 month. Make sure you get your permanent filling done even if your temporary filling doesn’t come out or seems to serve the purpose.

What to do if your temporary filling comes out before permanent filling placement?

Even after following all the instructions and dietary changes, sometimes our temporary filling gets dislodged. The dislodgement or removal may not be your fault always. Sometimes a dentist fills a temporary filling in a hurry.

Due to lack of precision or less material usage, the filling comes out prematurely. If this happens, do not panic.

Avoid chewing on hard substances for some time. Call your dentist to reschedule the appointment on an earlier date, if possible.

Keep following the above mentioned oral care and diet routine until you visit your dentist. If an earlier appointment is not possible, insist on a refill for your temporary filling.


Over to you

No matter how difficult it seems, maintaining a temporary dental filling is rather easy. With proper teeth brushing, flossing and dietary changes, you can easily keep your temporary dental filling long enough.

Although temporary fillings may seem to have served the purpose, it is essential that we get a permanent fix. A temporary dental filling is just a transition and far more inferior in protecting our teeth compared to a permanent filling.

A prematurely dislodged filling is not a problem as long as you are careful. Call your dentist and do not avoid a dislodged temporary filling as it may lead to teeth fracture and decay.


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