Dental Flipper choices – Waiting on dental implant

 I have a front tooth missing and am waiting for my dental implant!!  What looks and functions best for me???  Dental flipper?

Dental flipper or something similar in your near future?  So you lost, or you never had, one or multiple front teeth.  A dental flipper is the traditional manner to temporarily restore that area, but you have other options.  You may have made the decision that dental implants are the best option for you long term.  If you have already decided to have a dental implant placed click here to see your dental implant temporary options.  Alternatively, if you are too young for a dental implant, you’re waiting for the implant site to heal, or the right time to spend the money; you have options.  I will cover the 6 choices on what you can do, including having a dental flipper made.

  Dental flipper options and alternatives

Dental flipper options

1. Place a mini screw in the space and a single crown on that.  (This option is only for someone who is still growing and awaiting their final implant placement.)  Some people are doing this but research is showing it has a negative impact on the bone as a young adult grows and can result in not enough bone development in the site for a final implant.  Although this can be done successfully and there are tons of great before and after cases; you can shoot yourself in the foot with this technique.  So I am not offering it.
2. Bonded Maryland bridge.  This is the only fixed option I offer.  They look nice and are functional.  Before dental implants became popular, this was by far the most common option because it can last a lifetime sometimes.  If you are definitely getting implants done this is probably overkill, unless you need to wait years before implant placement.
These last four options are removable and are most likely what you are looking for.
3. Removable dental flipper or retainer.  If you had orthodontics you know what a retainer is.  This one just has teeth attached to it.
4. Flexible partial denture is like a removable flipper but is a newer product.
5. Essix style retainer.  This looks like a bleaching tray or Invisalign tray but has teeth in it.
6. Snap-on smile.  Covers multiple teeth.  This is like a removable bridge and covers all the front teeth.
1. As I said I am not offering the mini-screw option currently.  My wife uses the same technology called TADs, but for different purposes.

 Maryland Bridge

2.   Maryland bridge is a type of dental bridge that consists of a metal or porcelain framework with a porcelain artificial tooth which is put into the front of the framework. It has 1 or 2 wings.  I only do a wing on one side and do not have any issues with them coming off.  However, most dentists use a wing on each side as shown below. These wings get bonded onto the teeth next to it.  This bridge was developed at the University of Maryland, thus got its name as Maryland.

Image of a maryland bridge

An example of a Maryland bridge

Artistic rendering of a Maryland bridge

Artistic rendition of a Maryland bridge.

Advantages of Maryland bridge

  • The Maryland bridge is a conservative treatment for splinting or replacing missing teeth.
  • Esthetics can be good, but depends on your dentist ability.
  • Since, it combines a composite resin that a dentist bonds to enamel that he/she acid etches, it’s very strong.  It is strong enough that you can eat normally and do not have to worry about it falling out.
  • Used for a many years as a permanent lifetime solution so clearly is more than strong enough for your temporary solution.

Problems Associated with a Maryland Bridge

  • They are tough to get a perfect match.
  • Maryland bridges are most expensive option.
  • They occasionally require some tooth modification, ie cutting of teeth next to the space.
  • They can pop out although that is rare.

 Removable Flipper

3. Removable Flipper looks very similar to a retainer but has teeth on it and not as much metal.  There is essentially no metal in the front. Here are pictures of three different examples.
Image of a removable dental flipper
Image of an acrylic dental flipper
 An acrylic tooth is selected that most closely matches the shade of your teeth.  Then a pink plate is molded to fit the roof of your mouth for upper flippers or to fit just inside the tongue side of your teeth for lower flippers.  To help secure the dental flipper in your mouth a dentist will sometimes use small wires with little ball ends.  Otherwise, it is secured by the pink acrylic snapping between your teeth.  Here is an example of one replacing two front upper lateral incisors with metal clasps in the back.  If you look close you can just see the metal in the back.
Image of a removable dental flipper in place

 Advantages of removable dental flipper

  • Cheapest option
  • A dentist can fabricate this quickly (with in a day or 2).
  • Works well most of the time
  • They are the “standard of choice” by most dentists.

Problems Associated with a removable dental flipper

  • They are tough to get a perfect match.
  • Removable dental flippers can press on the gums and so are not very healthy for the gums.
  • Teeth on flippers break off easily, so be careful!
  • They do not hold up well to chewing and eating and by that I mean they break!  We tell patients that whenever possible remove them before eating to avoid breaking the flipper.
  • For replacing just one or two teeth, it is a lot of “hardware” in your mouth.

Flexible partial dentures

4. Duraflex, valplast, tcs, Resure are all name brand versions of flexible partial denture. They are similar to the choice above but are made of a moderately pliable product. We use this material to make removable partials and I think this is a great idea to use for some people.  It is newer so fewer labs and dentists will offer it.

Image of one of the dental flipper options

 

 Advantages of this style of dental flipper

  • Can look very esthetic
  • Works well most of the time
  • Only has to touch 2 teeth next to empty area
  • Great idea when have a tooth in or near the back when want something but exact match not critical

Problems Associated with this style of dental flipper

  • They can be tough to get a perfect match.
  • Some types of flexible partials can press on the gums and thus can be irritating.
  • They are be hard to adjust
  • It can be difficult to eat with them.
  • They usually can not be added to or repaired.

Essix

5. Essix style is a custom clear retainer, similar to the Invisalign product, that snaps over all of the upper or lower teeth.  It is a fairly hard acrylic.  Here is someone wearing one
 Image of essix temporary retainer dental implant
 Here is what it looks like
Image of an essix temporary retainer

  Advantages of essix

  • Comfortable to wear
  • Works well most of the time
  • A dentist can fabricate this very quickly and sometimes in their own office immediately.
  • Pretty strong so you are unlikely to break.
  • Acts as a retainer also so do not need to wear the retainer.
  • Can eat with it but be careful
  • Will protect area of implant when it is in because no pressure is on the tissue

Problems Associated with an essix

  • Almost always tough to get a perfect match.
  • Essix can make you talk a little funny at first

Snap-On Smile

6. Snap-On Smile is the name brand of a product that we use to improve the smiles of those that can not afford veneers.  It is also a very nice temporary that can replace a single tooth or more.  Rather than copy information from their website here is the link to what it is.  Snap-On

Advantages of Snap-On

  • Most patients mind it to be comfortable to wear.
  • It can look great, because it can give you a whole new smile!
  • A Snap-On is strong so you can eat with it.  Patients must still be careful, though.
  • Since a Snap-On protects the gums where the implant is, it ensures no damaging pressure can be put on bone or tissue grafts around the implant.
  • If thinking about veneers, it can give you a trial run of what they might look like.

Problems Associated with a Snap-On

  • They may be too bulky, thus impacting the look and feel.
  • They may mess with your bite some so important to remove it at night and preferably for as many meals as possible.
  • Snap-On is the most expensive option available and costs about 3-5 times that of a flipper, an essix, or a delineator.
Personally, I would go with either option 3, 4, 5, or 6.
Here is someone who had both an essix and a snap-on made while waiting for her implant to heal.  She had both made and chose the snap-on.  It is often hard to say which will look better ahead of time, therefore this is often a best guess by your dentist.
Image of dental implant missing tooth

Nothing in

Image of a snap on temporary

Snap-on in

Image or an essix retainer

Essix retainer in – Flash makes look worse than really is. These are the same as Invisalign trays

Image final dental implant crown

Final crown

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50 Responses to “Dental Flipper choices – Waiting on dental implant”

  1. Debbie OatesJune 2, 2017 at 11:45 am #

    I have scleroderma and its causing my mouth to have some striction. I recently had all my teeth pulled. I am not able to wear normal dentures. I was wondering if you could help me or advise me on where to go or what to do.

    • bryanabauerJune 2, 2017 at 6:36 pm #

      Debbie, a duraflex partial or full denture would likely be best as it is flexible. Any dentist can make one and many labs offer them or something equivalent. You may need to get a digital impression instead of a standard impression as the trays usually don’t fit into restricted mouths. I have a patient with a different medical condition that has resulted in extremely restricted opening and that is what we did for her. Many docs have the equipment to take digital impressions now so you should be able to find someone no matter where you live.

  2. Larry HainesJune 21, 2017 at 10:24 pm #

    I have a front upper tooth that has a crown on but the post is basically to small and crown comes off at least 3 or 4 times a year. I want to go another route for just one tooth what should be the best option

    • bryanabauerJune 21, 2017 at 10:32 pm #

      Implant most likely but often times when I see a tooth like what you are describing there is infection in the bone above the tooth making a dental implant difficult to place. If that is the case then maybe a bridge. A flipper will work and is cheap so depends on your budget.

  3. lisaJuly 14, 2017 at 4:50 am #

    Hi Dr bauer how can I locate a dentist who doss that essix restoration I really like that idea I lost most of my eye tooth in the front and really didnt want to do a flipper.

    • bryanabauerJuly 14, 2017 at 3:06 pm #

      Almost any dentist can do one. Find a dentist that does Invisalign and they will definitely be able to make you one. If you can save the eye tooth do it. It has a very long root. If you are headed to a denture or partial anyway then it won’t matter as much.

      • lisaSeptember 29, 2017 at 2:49 am #

        Thank you..yikes that’s what I was worried about it having a long root I read somewhere about the sinus cavity hope won’t mess with that if I have it pulled ..I did the root canal and crown on my other side eye tooth no.7 tooth I think was just too expensive .so don’t want go that route again !!!it broke prety much to the gumline …so probably no saving it unfortunately !!

  4. Julie HochJuly 28, 2017 at 11:20 am #

    Hi, I had a bridge placed about 5 years ago when I loss a baby tooth that had no adult tooth behind it. Over the last 5 years I have had my bridge drilled through for a repeat root canal then replaced and two have cracked at the floating tooth. That is 3 bridges in 5 years and looking at a fourth. Would a flipper work for me? What do you recommend?

    • bryanabauerAugust 2, 2017 at 7:43 pm #

      It would. For the amount of time and money you have spent you could have gotten a dental implant even if you needed both braces and bone grafting. That is highly unusual to have a bridge crack. Sounds like the dentists is trying to use a material that isn’t strong enough for you. If you aren’t being charged for them I can assure the dentist is just as frustrated as you are. I would consider a second opinion and try to get an answer from someone as to why this is happening. It might just be your grinding habits.

  5. Jacqueline HolmesDecember 27, 2017 at 6:28 pm #

    I am intrested in a flipper or retainer how do i get it and hw much is it my front tooth is missing

    • Bauer BryanDecember 27, 2017 at 6:59 pm #

      Usually several hundred dollars but depends on where you go, where you live, and what materials they use.

  6. Luis DelgadoDecember 30, 2017 at 5:13 am #

    Hello mr byran.. how are you doing my dentist made me pull out my front tooth because he said it was a dead tooth but it was never an issue with me and he knew this already going in .. and he knew I was a psychiatric patient already I went in for a routine extraction of my back left tooth I want up getting my front tooth extracted and the side truth to add insult to injury and now they’re charging me $1,100 I had Medicaid coverage and he whined up getting me a mouth full of metal and his words were exactly that’s what you start off with he never gave me any options he thought because I live in a low-income neighborhood that I couldn’t afford to get anything and now he’s charging me $1,100 for Dental flipper and I only need two of them and he wants to give me full of them

  7. Frank MalderoJanuary 23, 2018 at 5:18 pm #

    I live in Massachusetts I’m interested in a flipper for my upper teeth could or you be able to do it even though I live in mass?

    • Bauer BryanJanuary 23, 2018 at 5:45 pm #

      Any dentist can do it, so just pick a local one.

  8. NaushmFebruary 7, 2018 at 11:59 pm #

    My tooth #12 cracked past the gum (via a pita chip). The dentist pulled the tooth. The tooth (going towards the back of my mouth) next to tooth #12 has been pulled over 45 years ago.pulled many years ago. So I now have a wide space. I don’t want a dental implant, nor do I want adjoining teeth to filed for any procedures. What is best to replace in that space or spaces?
    Thank you.

    • Bauer BryanFebruary 8, 2018 at 6:05 am #

      Partial denture or flipper

  9. Anita BarnettFebruary 20, 2018 at 1:15 pm #

    My daughter is twelve and one of her front teeth is still a baby tooth which she is self conscious about. Her permanent tooth failed to come down due to a piece of a tooth blocking it. The dentist suggested removing the piece of tooth in her gum and baby tooth but she would be without a tooth while waiting for the permanent tooth to move down which she is not wanting to do. The orthodontist suggested braces 1st to make room for an implant in a few years. Orthodontist said she could make a pontic after 6 months of braces? I don’t want to go the braces route period. What would you suggest? I’m going for least invasive, least painful and something that looks normal in the place of a missing tooth. Please help!

    • Bauer BryanFebruary 21, 2018 at 5:27 am #

      You were given your only options. Pulling the baby tooth without ortho may not do anything though. We often have to go and surgically expose those teeth to get them to come down.

  10. Anita BarnettFebruary 21, 2018 at 4:03 pm #

    What about a flipper, a retainer or a partial? There has to be other options without braces? Everyone can’t afford braces even if they could they don’t want to get them so there has to be other options available.

    • Bauer BryanFebruary 22, 2018 at 6:20 am #

      If you aren’t concerned about whether or not the tooth comes down then a flipper will work fine. Your dentist may be able to just do a Maryland bridge later. The cheapest option is flipper and leave as long as works, which can be a long time depending on person.

  11. SandiFebruary 22, 2018 at 1:32 am #

    Dr Bauer, I need #4 tooth extracted. I can’t afford implant and bridge is not much cheaper. Please help,with a cheaper alternative ..thank you for your time. I’m really upset about losing the tooth.

    • Bauer BryanFebruary 22, 2018 at 6:21 am #

      Flipper

  12. Jay CarrollMarch 5, 2018 at 2:16 am #

    This was extremely helpful. Thank you for sharing this information.

  13. Justin TurnerMarch 8, 2018 at 2:37 am #

    I was in a wreck back in September. I lost 1 front tooth and they were able to save 2 more that had gotten knocked super loose. I also have multiple chips on my bottom teeth. Any recommendations on what to do for the missing and chipped teeth as well as insurance or discount program that will help the Most? I am located in Charleston sc. Also the person at fault only had $50,000 coverage and after a shattered chin, 2 broken tmj’s, a broken wrist, and a shattered femoral head my finances are also a concern. Any help or guidance is appreciated.

    • Bauer BryanMarch 12, 2018 at 5:37 am #

      Sorry to hear this happened but you need to go see a dentist and ask them. Duraflex and flippers are cheap. Broken teeth need fillings or crowns.

  14. Kristy Sue LuikenMarch 9, 2018 at 6:42 pm #

    I just had a top right tooth pulled –3 back from my front, right in my smile line as he said but he also said there was no saving it. I just looked in the mirror and am horrified! I will never be able to smile without that gross gap showing. I had to have a lower on the left pulled a few years ago but its back a bit more and not as noticable. What are your thoughts on a replacement? He said I would have a few options. The thought of “dentures” and having to take them out, grosses me out! But so much of what I have read says I have to take them out when eating or be extra careful all the time. I worry enough about everything- I dont want to have to constantly worrry about whether or not a tooth is going to break etc! Please help. The dentist said I am kind of limited on what I can get with my insurance but at this point Im willing to try and come up with money out of pocket to make my smile look somewhat normal.
    #disgusted #nomoresmiling

  15. KarenMarch 12, 2018 at 1:49 pm #

    How much do a dental flipper cost for one front tooth?

    • Bauer BryanMarch 12, 2018 at 3:17 pm #

      Around $400-500. You can get possibly get them cheaper at a dental school if you have access to one.

  16. EvelynMarch 22, 2018 at 5:10 am #

    I have 3 mssing teeth up on the side and 2 missing teeth on the bottom. My concern right now is the top very noticeable when I smile. Would a bridge work for me? I can’t afford inplants.

    • Bauer BryanMarch 22, 2018 at 8:36 pm #

      If you have a tooth in front and behind then you can get a fixed bridge but one that size is not cheap either. Maybe a partial denture?

  17. PatriciaApril 3, 2018 at 11:13 pm #

    I have a three loose teeth. One on top that the vampire tooth I think it’s called or something like that. And two bottom teeth by each other that loose. What would be best to work with. None are bad just loose those three rest are good. What do u think I should do

    • Bauer BryanApril 5, 2018 at 3:02 am #

      Go see a dentist, they’ll tell you.

  18. JackApril 19, 2018 at 12:21 am #

    quick question re Essex and flipper. Looks like I will wait about 6 months for an implant to heal, then have crown on a front tooth. In the meantime I have an Essex. Is there any advantage to going to a flipper? Dentist seems to be recommending this. I wouldn’t mind a fixed temporary for the front tooth but wondering if a flipper is any better than Essex, which isn’t great but it works…

    • Bauer BryanApril 22, 2018 at 2:37 am #

      Essix and flipper are about the same really. Essix hovers over area so if there was a lot of bone graft or tissue graft then that would be better than a flipper which may push against the healing area. Fixed temp is not for everyone. It is more risky cause if you bite on it, kiss the implant goodbye.

  19. SusanApril 22, 2018 at 5:22 am #

    Dr. Bauer, in July 2016, I suffered nerve damage during a dental appt, followed by infection. After several days, 20 received endo, then extraction two days later. The following week, 18 was extracted. 19 was a pontic. 21 was removed when I was a child for orthodontia. Augmentation at 21 in Jan 2017, followed by full braces for a year to turn 22 to be more forward facing. Learned two weeks ago (4th cone beam) that augmentation did not work at 21 and the nerve at 20 is looping into 21. I have bone height but not width at 21. Periodontist does not think repeat augmentation will help. This week, he called to tell me he does not want to do implants at 18 and 19 because my marrow is insufficient. Would an Essix prevent loss of my jaw and chin? Is a partial possible? My general dentist does not want to touch 22 because of the stress it incurred during the orthodontics. It seems like that is still a better option than having my lower teeth pulled for a lower denture. I am 64 yrs old, female. Thank you so much for considering this.

    • Bauer BryanApril 29, 2018 at 4:25 pm #

      I am sorry to hear of the tough spot you are in. There is likely no good choice. No an essix is not the answer for you. A lower denture is not a good option either. Maybe a telescopic denture if they are concerned about the periodontal stability of 21.

      • SusanApril 29, 2018 at 4:40 pm #

        Doctor, I can’t thank you enough for this helpful response. You are a wonderful person. Thank you again.

  20. AnonymousMay 9, 2018 at 7:58 pm #

    thank you for your thoughtful response. There has been grafting so the Essex probably has been best thing so far. I am thinking of just keeping it, what will now probably be 8 or 9 more months – yikes. Dr doesn’t think it is a good situation for temporary tooth… I guess I’ll just put up with it and let it heal… Interesting stuff, I’m learning a lot!

  21. KathleenMay 11, 2018 at 2:48 am #

    Hi Dr,
    I had my tooth to the right of my front tooth extracted. My dentist suggested a flipper. I only wear it occasionally as it is so uncomfortable. When I swallow it forces air into my ears, clacks, and I lisp when I talk so it is very embarrassing to me. My dentist assistant keeps telling me I will get used to it but it’s been a year and no changes. I was wondering if I could get a Maryland bridge? Is there a max gap distance to be a candidate for the Maryland bridge? My parents 60th wedding anniversary party is coming up and I want to be able to smile.
    Thank you,
    Kathleen

    • Bauer BryanMay 13, 2018 at 3:49 pm #

      Yes you can definitely get a Maryland bridge! The cost is just more than a flipper. However, it is the cheapest thing that stays in the mouth all the time and it works well. Not many dentists are willing to do it for a front middle tooth though (it’s usually reserved for the smaller one next to it) but in the right circumstances it is doable.

      • KathleenMay 18, 2018 at 7:43 pm #

        Hi Dr. Bryan,
        Thank you so much for your reply. I see you said not many dentists are willing to the Maryland Bridge for tooth #7. Would a Carlson bridge be better? Thank you again,
        Kathleen

  22. Catalina BarcenasMay 14, 2018 at 7:21 pm #

    Doctor Bryan,

    For several reasons I lost teeth 13, 29, 30 and 31. My next step is to fill the blanks 🙂 What do you recommend? For tooth 13, the dentist’s assistant told me about a flipper. I am in Texas but I am sure I can find a good dentist over here.
    Thank you so much.
    Catalina

    • Bauer BryanMay 15, 2018 at 6:40 pm #

      Budget will dictate what you do. Implants eventually is best. Flipper for #13 or duraflex. Really either need the implants or a partial denture for the other three.

  23. REBECCA HARTMay 16, 2018 at 7:36 pm #

    I have trauma to #8 and #9 from a fall. Dentist has temporary crowns on now. Not enough tooth material left to simply crown them. Root canals done. After 1 year of temporaries, Oral surgeon says they now must be extracted. I am a very healthy 57 year old woman with no other dental issues. Oral surgeon recommends a bridge across the front for the best aesthetic result. Says difficult to get a good dental implant result on front teeth 8 and 9. Restorative dentist recommends implants instead of bridge for strength and stability. I have longevity in my family, don’t smoke and have no health issues. I am leaning toward implants even though it all be a long process. Since the dentist recommends what the oral surgeon does and the oral surgeon recommends what the dentist does, I am at a standstill. Considering getting second opinions. Any thoughts on this difficult situation? (Cost is not an issue on this as the fall was due to negligence and insurance company is paying the entire thing.) Thanks for your opinion.

    • Bauer BryanMay 16, 2018 at 11:54 pm #

      Tough one! Could go either way I guess. Here are the criteria I use. I would try to get implants if at all possible. Does you gumline show when you smile? If so implants become more risky to get great esthetics.

  24. Leann MungalMay 17, 2018 at 5:56 am #

    I had both my upper front teeth extracted. The dentist put in a Maryland Bridge using permanent crowns and permanent cement material from one lateral incisor to the other. He put a crown on the first lateral incisor and a wing on the other. This was done as a temporary solution while bone graft is healing before putting in implants. The wing broke after 1.5mths and he had to cut off the crown and re-make the entire bridge all over again. I was alarmed when I realised he used permanent cement because I know you will have to cut off the crown each and every time. The implants still have to go in. Should I switch from the bridge to the Essix?? And maybe change dentist?? I am very worried about him cutting off the crown and putting it back on using permanent cement each and every time. I am afraid that I may need a root canal on the lateral incisor if he continues to do this

    • Bauer BryanMay 18, 2018 at 1:43 am #

      No we can cut off the Maryland bridge without ever touching your tooth. It is not that difficult at all. I think that is a fine plan.

      • Leann MungalMay 18, 2018 at 3:03 pm #

        Hi Dr. Bauer, I don’t think I explained clearly how he did the bridge. The bridge is not made up of two wings. It is made up of a crown over a vital tooth on one side and a wing on the other side. And what I am fearful off is the fact that he has to cut off the crown on the vital tooth every time he has to remove the bridge, because he used permanent cement. I asked him why he used permanent cement and his answer was that he has to use that because the teeth are in the front. Is this good dental practise??

  25. sandiMay 18, 2018 at 2:51 am #

    Tooth#4 is looking like it has to be extracted and I am unable to have a inplant. I dont want a bridge as just dislike the idea of ruining 2 other perfect teeth. Is there another option for a 70 year old? I also will consider saving up and coming to you as I live out of state and need a reliable dentist for this traumatic loss of this tooth.\\thanks

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