I am wondering what my options are for my daughter who has a missing tooth in front. I believe it is her lateral incisor. She had a tooth there when she was a baby. But, once she lost her baby teeth, no other tooth came in behind it. She never had a permanent tooth. Recently, the dentist told me that we need to do something about it soon, or the teeth will begin to shift into the empty place. He said that the canine has already started to shift into the empty space. She’s 18 years old now, and there is still a gap. She is of course not too happy with how it looks. Do you know what her options are to replace the missing tooth that will still look good?
-Sharon from Minnesota
Thank you for reaching out. Unfortunately, it sounds like you haven’t had the best advice over the years if your daughter is 18 years old already. This would have been a relatively simple fix when your daughter was young. But, since the tooth has done some shifting, it may be a little more complicated at this point to resolve the issue.
A temporary flipper partial would have worked well and looked fine. It would have helped keep that space open until you were ready to move forward with a permanent tooth replacement. The canine tooth that has shifted needs to be moved back to its original spot where it belongs. Then, to fill the empty space, a dental implant is the best solution to replace a missing tooth. A dental implant will function and feel just like a normal tooth. It will look natural, and she will be happy with it. Also, it will prevent anymore shifting.
Functionally speaking, the canine tooth is important because it protects the back teeth from stresses that come from the side. The root is long and thick, so it is helpful to absorb stress from chewing. The term we refer to it is a canine-protected occlusion. If that tooth is out of alignment, it will continue to cause further issues down the road.
Aesthetically speaking, the shape and size of the tooth is important. The canine tooth won’t look right when she smiles. It needs to go back into place. The lateral incisor is a thin, and more delicate looking tooth. A canine and the lateral incisor are both needed to make her smile look natural.
Now, it is possible to move the front tooth without requiring conventional braces. Invisalign invisible braces use clear plastic aligners to reposition the teeth using highly-sophisticated computer technology. They have a high patient satisfactory rating, and they are removable for eating.
Anyway, the first thing to do is to have the canine re-positioned. Then, try to find an experienced implant dentist to replace the missing tooth. In this picture, you can see how it looks to have a canine teeth in the wrong position. This isn’t something that can be successfully addressed with cosmetic dentistry.
Hopefully, this information helps you plan your next steps.
This post is sponsored by Petaluma dentist Rick Lane, DDS.