What's a dental flipper? In short, it's a removable partial denture generally used as a temporary tooth replacement. If you're missing a tooth and need a temporary replacement until you can get a more permanent procedure like implants, you may want to consider a flipper tooth.
Flippers are one of the least invasive kinds of tooth replacements, consisting of a gum-colored plate and a replacement tooth or teeth. Flippers are removable and are usually used as a temporary solution.
So let's find out a little bit more about these partial, removable dentures, so you can decide if a temporary flipper is the right choice for you. In this article, we'll cover the following:
- What are dental flippers?
- Who can have a dental flipper?
- What are the pros and cons?
Keep reading to find out if this is the best option for you!
Table of contents
What is a dental flipper?
A tooth flipper is technically a removable partial denture. Many dentists will use a flipper tooth as a temporary replacement for your missing tooth while you wait for a permanent replacement. You may also see this referred to as temporary dentures or a flipper denture.
Depending on the exact number of teeth you are missing, a flipper tooth may resemble a retainer with clasps that help hold it in place around the existing teeth.
So why would you need a flipper?
Replacing missing teeth due to disease, decay, or damage is often a lengthy process. When a tooth is extracted, the gums and the bone beneath it become sensitive and require at least six weeks to over six months to completely heal before you can get a permanent replacement.
This is because losing natural teeth can change the shape of the bone structure of the jaw as well as the underlying gum tissue.
These changes can negatively affect the fit of permanent dental implants or dentures meant for long-term wear. In such circumstances, you may have the option of getting a temporary false tooth.
What is a flipper tooth made of?
A flipper tooth is usually made of a pink acrylic that exactly matches the color of your gums and may have brackets. It can be created before you go to your dental appointment.
This acrylic structure attaches to your natural teeth on either side of the empty space left behind by your missing tooth. Because of this, it is extremely easy for you to take out this denture and put it back at any time you want. It also makes it a lot easier to clean.
Look at the video below to watch how a natural tooth is extracted and replaced with an acrylic dental flipper.
Should you use dental flippers?
If you have a missing tooth or teeth and you are looking for temporary tooth replacement options, your dentist may suggest teeth flippers. But should you actually get them? Let's take a look at the benefits and drawbacks of these false teeth to help you decide.
Benefits of a dental flipper
A dental flipper can be beneficial to your dental care:
- Better appearance: Dental flippers fill in the gaps caused by missing teeth so you can get your smile back.
- Advance preparation: If for some reason your dentist needs to extract one of your teeth due to disease or damage, a dental flipper can be prepared before the extraction and placed as soon as possible.
- Regain function: With a flipper, you may find it easier to chew or speak.
- More stability: Using tooth flippers as partial dentures for front teeth can keep the teeth around the gap in place. This prevents these surrounding teeth from shifting.
- Convenient: Dental flippers are easy to wear and can be taken out for cleaning.
- Comfortable: This type of temporary denture is much more comfortable and more aesthetically pleasing than some alternatives.
- Affordability: A flipper denture is generally cheaper than other tooth replacements.
- Easy to prepare: Dental flippers are made quickly, generally requiring one to two days on average. If you are waiting for an implant, flippers can be a good alternative in the meantime.
Drawbacks of a dental flipper
While a dental flipper is good in some applications, there are also some drawbacks:
- Durability: Most dental flippers are made using cheaper materials that are less durable when compared to other types of dentures. This means they are more prone to cracking and breaking.
- Initial discomfort: Flipper teeth may initially feel uncomfortable in your mouth. This can also make activities like eating and talking feel slightly unnatural. If your flipper causes you pain, see your dentist.
- Potential allergy: Some people experience an allergic reaction from the material used to make flipper teeth. Discuss your allergy history with the dentist prior to getting one.
- Maintenance: Using flipper teeth can be harmful to your dental health because they increase the risk of tooth decay and gingivitis, especially if you do not clean them well.
- Risk of gum recession: A flipper tooth covers your gums entirely, hindering the flow of saliva to that particular area. Because saliva helps keep the gums clean and prevents recession, using a flipper tooth can actually increase this risk.
- Risk of Loosening: A flipper tooth is made and molded in such a way that it grips your existing teeth perfectly. However, using it over a long period of time can cause the tooth to loosen. In this circumstance, you need to schedule an appointment with your dentist to fix it.
The following table summarizes the main pros and cons of having a temporary flipper.
Not too expensive
May be unhealthy for gums
Can be made quickly
May not be a perfect fit
Good for aesthetics
May break easily
High success rates
Only meant for temporary use
Now that you're armed with information, you can talk to your dentist about whether to get a flipper false tooth.
Dental flipper cost
So how much is a flipper tooth? Well, it depends on what materials your dentist (or the lab) uses and how many teeth are being replaced (single tooth flipper, double tooth flipper, etc.). But generally, a front flipper tooth can cost anywhere between $300 and $500. Make sure to contact your insurance company to see how much of that they can cover.
A flipper tooth is an affordable temporary prosthetic tooth replacement for most people. If you’re waiting for a more permanent tooth replacement solution, a flipper tooth might be a good choice for you.
Flipper teeth make it easier to eat and talk while you wait for a permanent replacement, and they also fill gaps in your smile if you're worried about aesthetics. However, they aren't perfect.
Ultimately, your dentist will be able to help you decide if a flipper is right for you and can give you some alternatives as well.
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How long after extraction can I wear a flipper?
You should refrain from wearing your dental flipper for the first 24 hours after surgery. However, you should follow your dentist's specific instructions for your case.
Can you eat with a dental flipper?
A flipper is designed primarily for aesthetics, but most patients learn to eat with their flippers in place. You should begin by chewing relatively soft food that is cut into small pieces.
Take small bites, and chew on both sides of your mouth at the same time. Hard or chewy foods (raw vegetables, french bread, etc.) should be avoided until after your period of adjustment.
Is a flipper the same as a partial denture?
Yes. Dental flippers are a type of partial denture used to act as a temporary filler for a gap in the tooth line. They are normally used to replace one missing tooth. Partial dentures, in general, can be used to replace one or multiple teeth.
How long can you wear a dental flipper?
Dental flippers are meant for temporary wear, usually just as long as it takes for your gums to heal before your implants. You may be able to wear them for longer, but only if your dentist gives the OK.
Flippers may also be worn by minors until they are old enough for implants, but regular denture care is required to keep them clean and prevent breakage.
What's the best way to clean dental flippers?
When you take your flippers out at night, scrub them with water or toothpaste and then soak them overnight in an antifungal, antibacterial solution. You can purchase dissolvable cleaning tablets.
European journal of dentistry: Allergic effects of the residual monomer used in denture base acrylic resins. Consulted 13 February 2020.
The journal of advanced prosthodontics: Immediate fixed partial denture after tooth extraction in patients with systemic diseases. Consulted 13 February 2020.