What happens when you lose or damage just one tooth? Is there an option for replacing just that tooth?
Of course, there is. You’re not about to have all your teeth ripped out in exchange for a set of dentures.
There’s actually an option specifically for this situation and it’s called a flipper tooth.Creative Commons
What Is A Flipper Tooth?
If you’ve lost a tooth to disease or injury, one option you have is to get a flipper tooth, which is a removable temporary tooth replacement.
After extraction of your natural tooth, the site will be sensitive and will need time to heal, so your dentist may recommend a flipper tooth until you get your permanent replacement (usually a dental implant).
The Materials And Procedure Of A Flipper Tooth
Usually, a flipper is made of from a pink gum-colored acrylic with a replacement acrylic tooth and can be created before your visit to the dentist.
It may have clasps that attach to the natural teeth surrounding the empty space where your tooth used to be. For this reason, this denture is easy for you to take out and put back in. This is great for when you need to clean the denture.
Removable Temporary Flipper
A removable flipper looks a lot like a retainer except that it has teeth attached to it. This can be popped in and out of your mouth with ease.
The tooth is made of acrylic material and looks very similar to a natural tooth. This tooth is connected to a gum-colored plate (which will have been molded to fit your mouth), whether it’s an upper flipper or lower flipper.
To help keep this tooth replacement steady in your mouth, your dentist may use small wires that have balled ends. Other than that, the flipper may just be secured by snapping between your teeth.
|Usually the most affordable option of its kind||Can be difficult to perfectly match the space of the missing tooth|
|Can be created quickly, usually within a day or two||Because they press against the gums, can be unhealthy for your gums|
|High success rate||Teeth on these flippers can break off easily|
|Most dentists trust removable flippers||When chewing, they don’t perform very well|
Flipper Tooth Pictures
The Benefits Of A Flipper Tooth
There are plenty of benefits to getting a flipper tooth, many of which your dentist will discuss with you beforehand. Here are a few:
- Natural look: It will fill in the spaces where your natural teeth were with realistic-looking dentures. This way, you won’t have big gaps in your smile.
- Ready when you are: If your dentist has to remove some of your teeth because of damage or disease, they can order a flipper tooth before that so you don’t have to go without teeth for a day or more.
- Easy to eat: If you’re missing teeth, that obviously will negatively affect your eating. With a flipper tooth, you can more easily chew your food.
- Keeps things in place: Using a temporary flipper tooth will help stabilize your teeth, keeping them from shifting while you wait for your permanent replacement.
- Convenient: A flipper tooth is super easy to wear and conveniently can be removed and replaced.
- Comfortable: Although some people find flipper teeth to be uncomfortable, most people say how comfortable they are. Compared to other temporary replacements, flippers are definitely the comfiest kind.
- Affordable: The nice thing about dental flippers is that they’re cheaper than many other denture alternatives.
- Easy to manufacture: Because it’s easy for your dentist or a lab to manufacture a flipper tooth, you can get them quickly, usually the day of or the next day.
Common Problems With Using A Flipper Tooth
Everything has pros and cons, and flipper teeth are no exception. You will have to weigh the benefits and the downsides of using one. So here are a few cons of using a flipper tooth:
- Lightweight material: Because they’re made of cheaper materials, they can break easier than other replacements.
- Design: With the way flippers are designed, they cover your gums, hindering your saliva from doing one of its jobs — cleaning your gums. Uncleaned gums can lead to gum recession.
- Risk: If you don’t properly clean your flipper tooth, it can quickly speed up and increase your risk of gum disease and tooth decay.
- Loosening grip: Flippers grip to your natural teeth, but over a short period of time, that grip can loosen. That means you may to go back to your dentist for an adjustment.
If your flipper tooth becomes uncomfortable, don’t worry. This is common.
A few things you can do to combat this discomfort is, first and foremost, speak with your doctor. They may have to make an adjustment to the replacement. But there are a few things you can do in the meantime to help reduce the discomfort:
- Eat soft foods that are cut into small pieces
- Remove the flipper tooth every night before bed
- Clean it daily and after every meal
- Use denture adhesive to help it fit better
- Use an over-the-counter denture relief cream or gel
If you accidentally drop your denture and end up with a broken flipper tooth, at that point, you’ll have to go to your dentist for a repair.
The Cost Of A Flipper Tooth
So how much is a flipper tooth? Well, it depends on what materials your dentist (or the lab) uses and how many teeth it’s replacing (single tooth flipper, two tooth flipper, etc).
But generally, front flipper tooth can cost anywhere between $300 and $500. It’s a good idea to contact your insurance company to see how much of that they can cover.
For more information about price of other dentures see this page.
There you have it — your guide to what a flipper tooth is, how you can benefit by using one, and how much it typically costs.
If this info is a bit overwhelming to you, contact your dentist and they can explain to you in-person all of your denture options.