Flippers: When Your Child Loses A Tooth Earlier Than Expected

You might think that asking a dentist to make false teeth is associated with older patients, and not really something you'd ask the family dentist who treats your kids. While it's uncommon for children to need false teeth, there are in fact occasions when a child needs a single false tooth until their permanent tooth grows in.

Flippers vs. Implants

In dentistry, an individual false tooth is called a flipper. They're not especially common with adult teeth, since a dental implant is the preferred method for replacing a lost permanent tooth. The implant is placed in the jaw, and a natural-looking porcelain tooth is then attached to the implant. But this is only viable when a permanent (adult) tooth has been lost. The trouble is that children's baby teeth can sometimes be lost ahead of schedule.

The Arrival of the Replacement Tooth

A baby tooth can be lost due to decay or an accident (a sharp hit knocking the tooth out of its socket). The tooth's permanent replacement might already be standing by for arrival. Your child's age is a good indicator of whether the permanent replacement tooth will soon erupt from the gums, and this can be confirmed with an x-ray. However, depending on your child's age, it could be years before their adult tooth is ready to erupt. A temporary solution is needed.

Natural-Looking Acrylic

Dental flippers are single false teeth — usually made from acrylic materials. This keeps costs down and reflects their temporary use. A flipper is shaped to resemble the tooth it's replacing, and its color will be matched to the rest of your child's teeth. It sits on a small base that has clasps on either side — with the base and its clasps matching the color of your child's gums. These clasps attach to the teeth on either side, holding the flipper in position.

Looks and Function

A flipper looks fairly natural, and nobody should be able to tell that your child's tooth went missing ahead of schedule. It won't quite function like a natural tooth, since it can't withstand the same bite pressure. It has some functionality, but its use is mostly cosmetic. It's detachable, and your family dentist may instruct your child to take their flipper out overnight.

The flipper is only intended to be a temporary solution, but it can be used for as long as it's needed — which is until your child's permanent tooth erupts from their gums.

If your child needs a temporary tooth, reach out to a local dental office, such as Westnedge Family Dentistry