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Crowns, Bridges, Dentures, Implants

Missing adult tooth, implant not an option?

05/19/2008

Question:

One of my front top adult teeth is missing. The orthodontists and dentists I have been too have always bonded it to the two teeth surrounding the remaining baby tooth. However, my old dentist told me that I had to wait to be a certain age before I could be considered for an implant. Unfortunately, I was seen by another dentist last year and he told me that the roots of the surrounding teeth were too close together for an implant to be considered. Next the dentist informed me that I could get something called a flapper which I would have to remove when I eat [remove my fake tooth]. I realize this is an option, but who wants to remove their tooth in public before they eat? Since then, I`ve been living with the old bonding on my baby tooth and just this morning a piece broke off. I am wondering if you know of any other solutions as the lack of my adult tooth has left me very self conscious.

Answer:

There are three ways to replace your front tooth:

1) A bridge. This requires cutting down the tooth on each side of the space. The bridge gets glued onto those anchoring teeth. A bridge is essentially three teeth connected together. This also assumes that the teeth on each side of the space are healthy ADULT teeth that can serve as anchors (a complication in your case).

2) A dental implant. A metal "tooth-root" or implant is put into the bone to serve as a support for a crown. While this is beneficial when someone doesn't want to cut down their adjacent teeth, it does require enough room and bone for the implant to be inserted. Some people may require braces to gain enough room for the implant.

3) A removable partial denture. This is also known as a "flipper" and looks like a retainer with a tooth on it. Since it is made of plastic, it is not usually sturdy enough to eat chewy foods with it in.

I encourage you to make a decision about the remaining baby tooth as well, since it will not likely be there for the long term, one of the above options may be less complicated with it removed.

For more information:

Go to the Crowns, Bridges, Dentures, Implants health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Julie A Holloway, DDS, MS, FACP Julie A Holloway, DDS, MS, FACP
Associate Professor of Restorative and Prosthetic Dentistry
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University