Front Tooth Replacement Options
In our previous blog, we spoke with you about dentist-fitted mouthguards, and how important they are to help avoid accidents and dental trauma, as well as concussions. But what happens if it’s too late – what if it already happened and you’ve found yourself with a missing front tooth? It’s important that you know your front tooth replacement options.
Dental 911 – What do I do if I knock out a front tooth?
If you or someone you love finds themselves in the midst of dental trauma with a knocked out (avulsed) tooth, here are a few quick steps to follow to give yourself the best possible chance for either saving the tooth:
- Stay as calm as possible – we know this can be hard, but this will also help stop any bleeding as quickly as possible. Try to think positive thoughts.
- Find the tooth. Pick it up by the crown (white part). Do not touch the root. If the tooth root is dirty, rinse briefly with water
- Attempt to place the tooth back into the mouth like it was. Hold the tooth in place by biting gently down on a cloth.
- If it is not possible to place the tooth back into the mouth in the original position, hold it inside the mouth between the cheek and molars, if this is not a swallowing risk. Otherwise, place the tooth in milk. Do NOT store the tooth in plain water.
- Seek professional dental treatment immediately. You can contact any 1st Family Dental location with available service hours to be seen right away.
- Call 911 or seek emergency medical treatment for uncontrolled bleeding, or if you experience dizziness, fainting, confusion, or any other symptoms of a concussion.
Front Tooth Replacement Options: What are your treatment options if you’ve lost a front tooth?
There are many reasons we may be missing a tooth, but missing a front tooth is a special case to a lot of us. Of course, as dental professionals, we know that all teeth are important, but we understand and acknowledge how important front teeth are. They are visible – they are what others see when you smile, and if you have a missing front tooth, any of the front 6 (known to us as numbers 6-11), chances are you want to know your options to replace that tooth, ASAP.
Heal the original tooth: This is, of course, the best possible option.
If you’ve knocked out a front tooth and sought treatment right away, there may be a possibility to save the original tooth. In some cases, your dentist may try to place the tooth back into it’s original position, anchor it in place, and encourage you to avoid biting and give you other special instructions to allow the hard and soft tissue to heal back around the tooth. It’s important to note that this may not be an option for everyone, and it may also not be successful. Your dentist will ask you to come back for a check up in a few days, and may tell you to contact them right away if you notice your tooth turning dark or black, or any concerning symptoms.
If the original tooth can’t be healed successfully, there are a couple of other options available to you.
Dental Implant plus Crown
Dental implants are the best possible replacement option for a missing front tooth. They are strong, and designed to fuse with surrounding bone (called osseointegration). Dental implants are designed to last for life. A crown is placed over the implant, and if the original tooth is available, an impression is made of that tooth, so that the crown will look and feel like your original tooth. Many of our patients have told us that people who did not know they had lost a front tooth were ever missing one.
However, a dental implant may not be possible right away, if healing from the dental trauma is necessary before implant placement. Also, there is an average healing period of about 3 months after implant surgery before a crown can be placed permanently. Never fear – you will not need to go home with a hole where your tooth was.
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In some cases, you may be eligible to have an implant in a day, with a temporary crown placed over the implant. However, this may not be possible for a missing front tooth that bears a lot of weight and stress of biting and chewing.
An immediate removable denture, also known as a flipper, is an excellent interim measure to address the appearance of a missing tooth, while you heal and wait for the permanent crown. An immediate denture is not designed to last a long time like a regular denture, but it is designed to help get you through until your permanent tooth replacement option is available.
Tooth-Supported Fixed Bridge
Another front tooth replacement option is a fixed bridge. A bridge consists of a pontic, or the crown in the middle replacing the missing tooth, and two anchors that cover the two adjacent teeth and are cemented into place. Bridges can last quite a while and also have a natural look and feel. However, if the adjacent teeth are healthy, a fixed bridge would require the “preparation” or shaving down, of those otherwise healthy teeth, which can potentially compromise their health in the long term, and those teeth may eventually require treatment or even replacement.
A Maryland bridge is not a common treatment option, but it is available in the event that the adjacent teeth are healthy. This type of bridge consists of the pontic or crown in the center, and is attached to unprepared teeth by “wings” which are bonded to the teeth. This is also known as a resin-bonded bridge. This option helps to preserve the health of adjacent teeth and looks and feels more natural than a denture, but is not as durable as a fixed bridge or a dental implant.
Removable Partial Denture
A removable partial denture works the same way as the flipper described above, but is more durable and designed to last for years with good care. A denture, like a bridge, will not replace the absence of the tooth, and it is likely that the other teeth will shift closer together. This may cause gaps and the appearance and even the health of your other teeth.
The loss of a front tooth can be an emotionally charged event. No matter what, we are here to make sure you have the best possible care to help you restore the health of your original tooth if possible, and if not, to ensure you have the best information and options available to take action and feel comfortable and confident in your smile.
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