Tooth Loss

It can happen to anyone, losing a tooth can be very devastating. A child playing in the playground, riding a bicycle can have an accident and knock out, break or crack one or several teeth. A teenager engaged in sports activity, football, hockey, etc. can have a similar accident. An adult could get into a motorcycle or auto accident or have a facial injury to the lips, gums and teeth. An elderly person could trip on a rough pavement or carpeting and sustain an injury to the lips, teeth or break a denture. Usually it’s the front teeth that get the impact and tooth or teeth are lost.

Fortunately these days newer automobiles have airbags which has drastically reduced severe facial bone fractures and loss of teeth. If you are engaged in sports activities, have your dentist make you a comfortable custom made mouth guard to protect your teeth.

If one or a few front teeth are lost and you need immediate replacement your options are:

1.) Your dentist can construct a temporary Partial (or flipper) within hours. This type of prosthesis can be removed for cleaning etc. It is used as a TEMPORARY until the gums heal and later a more permanent option (Fixed Bridge or Implant) is provided.

2.) Another option is an Essix Appliance (modified Temporary Partial)

3.) Another option if only 1 or 2 teeth not in heavy bite can be replaced with a “Maryland Bridge”. Teeth glued to natural adjacent teeth with metal backing and adhesive cement.

4.) In an adult, a temporary Bridge can be made. 2 teeth adjacent to the lost tooth is trimmed and 2 temporary caps are placed with a dummy replacement tooth. Healing period can be up to 8 weeks then a permanent Bridge made.

5.) Recently with advances in implant technology a dental implant can be placed by an oral surgeon or periodontist on the same day after the accident. The broken or cracked root or tooth is removed and a dental implant placed. Sometimes bone grafting is also needed. This is a permanent solution.

NOTE: Dental implant placement is getting more accepted. If a tooth is lost due to an accident or gum disease or cracked root, insist on getting bone graft to preserve height and width of bone for implant placement now or in the future.

The best advice is to play safe but if an accident happens see your dentist right away. If a tooth falls out, rinse the tooth and place it in a clean tupper ware container with cold milk and take it to your dentist right away. Many times the tooth can be re-implanted in its original place.

If you unfortunately run into any of these above problems and tooth loss occurs, feel free to contact us in the Phoenix East valley (chandler, Sun Lakes) area.

By Dr. Jeff Elahi DDS, MS (Prosthodontist)