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
- 1 What is a dental flipper?
- 2 What is a flipper tooth made of?
- 3 What is a removable temporary flipper?
- 4 Should you use dental flippers?
- 5 Dental flipper cost
- 6 Conclusion
- 7 FAQs
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 teeth while you wait for your permanent dentures. It goes by various names like ‘flipper tooth', ‘temporary dentures', and ‘flipper denture.'
Depending upon 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?
The replacement of missing teeth because of disease, decay or damage is often a lengthy process. When a tooth is extracted from your mouth, 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 a loss of natural teeth can change the shape of the bone support 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 gum. It can be created before you go to visit the dentist. This acrylic structure may bear clasps that get attached 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.
What is a removable temporary flipper?
All dental flippers are, by design removable, and most are ideally temporary until you can get a better replacement tooth like an implant. Flippers are similar to a retainer except that there are teeth attached to it. You can pop it in and out of your mouth with ease. The teeth are made using acrylic material that closely resembles a natural tooth. This tooth is attached to a gum-colored acrylic palate which is then molded to your mouth. This temporary tooth is normally kept in place with small wires or clasps that just like with a retainer.
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 opting for 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
Mentioned below are some of the benefits of using a dental flipper.
- 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 remove one of your teeth due to disease or damage, a dental flipper can be prepared before the extraction and fixed in the mouth 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 alternatives.
- Easy to prepare: Dental flippers are quicker to make, 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
Amidst all the benefits of using a dental flipper, there are certain drawbacks that you should also consider.
- Durability: Most dental flippers are made using cheap materials with low durability 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: It is possible for you to be allergic to the material used to make flipper teeth. It is important for you to discuss your allergy history with the dentist prior to getting one.
- Maintenance: Using flipper teeth can be harmful to your dental health as they increase the risk of tooth decay and gingivitis, especially if you do not clean them well.
- Risk of gum recession: A flipper tooth entirely covers your gums, 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 loosen this grip. In such circumstances, you may need to schedule an appointment with your dentist to fix this loosened flipper tooth.
The following table summarizes the main pros and cons of having a temporary flipper.
Based on the pros and cons mentioned above, you can decide for yourself if you wish to get a flipper false tooth or not.
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 it’s replacing (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 option for 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 have certain benefits, like making 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 also have their drawbacks.
Ultimately, your dentist will be able to help you decide if a flipper is right for you. If a flipper isn't your best option, they can hopefully give you some alternatives as well.
How long after extraction can I wear a flipper?
Unless instructed otherwise by your dentist, you should refrain from wearing your dental flipper until 24 hours have passed after surgery.
Can you eat with a dental flipper?
A flipper is designed primarily for aesthetics, however, 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 kind 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 whereas partial dentures, in general, can be used to replace one or multiple teeth.
How long can you wear a dental flipper?
Dental flippers are intended to be worn temporarily, while you wait for your gums to heal before getting an implant. But some people choose to wear flippers indefinitely, either because of the low cost or because they’re lightweight and easy to adjust to.
For kids with missing teeth who are younger than 17, a flipper may be a long-term solution until they’re old enough to get implants. However, dental flippers are prone to breaking easily and require regular care to keep them clean and to protect your other teeth and gums.
What's the best way to clean dental flippers?
Remove your flippers at night and scrub them gently with water or toothpaste, then soak them overnight in a glass with an antifungal and antibacterial denture tablet. You can put your clean flippers back in your mouth in the morning. Visit your dentist twice a year to closely monitor your dental flipper and adjust it if it becomes loose.