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    ‘Provisionals’ – An important item in the dental toolbox

    submitted by Dr. Michael Spadafora, D.D.S., Bucks County Dental Design

    Excellent dentistry is a fine blend of art and science.

    This is very evident when your dentist suggests crown and bridgework to restore your mouth to proper function and beautiful aesthetics.

    The dentist is looking for a result that is pleasing to the eye.

    The color of the crown/bridge should closely match the patient’s teeth, the size should blend with the existing teeth, and the gums should be pink and healthy.

    There is much more, however, to your treatment plan. The dentist is also planning for longevity of the treatment and predictability of the results.

    One tool that can help him achieve ideal results is a “provisional.”  Provisionals are temporary crowns used to help diagnosis and evaluate potential issues with planned dental work.

    The provisional is created after the prep for the crown has begun. The patient can expect to have the provisional for up to a year.

    In that time, the dentist will check, adjust, repair, and replace it until it becomes the perfect prototype for the permanent crown.

    Some conditions suggest that a provisional is indicated. For instance, if the dentist suspects that a root canal may be needed on the tooth, he may suggest a provisional to buy some time.

    The dentist hopes to avoid drilling through a permanent crown to access a diseased root, while avoiding an unnecessary root canal.

    Another indication for the provisional is if the patient has bite issues.  The provisional allows the dentist to evaluate, over time, how the existing teeth will be affected and make the necessary adjustments.

    The cost of a provisional crown varies from office to office. It is usually a small percentage (maybe 20%) of the cost of a permanent crown. It is almost never covered by dental insurance.

    The fee reflects the return visits necessary to tweak the provisional to enhance the final result.

    Be assured that your dentist is not padding his bill when he suggests provisionals.

    It is more likely that he is a very good dentist and has your best interests at heart!