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  • Writer's pictureSoong-Ryong Jung (David) , DDS, MS, PhD

Dental Implants and Flipper Teeth

Plano, TX - There are a variety of ways that people deal with tooth loss. Depending on the time period, finances, and reason for tooth loss, dental patients try to find the right option for them. However, just because people have a few options, that doesn't mean that they all have the same results. There are different grades of materials, techniques, and construction of various goods and services. So, it would be safe to assume that the same would apply for tooth replacement and dentures.

There are also temporary measures to consider when waiting for the implant. Surgeons do have to accurately measure the correct size for the implant, and often times they are custom made. So what would fulfill the need to cover the visible gap between a tooth? Does it serve as a substitution or is it a temporary measure? And what do people think about it when they do wear it? That is why we are going to talk about

Flipper Teeth

According to the Mayo Clinic, "When a tooth is removed, the gums and underlying bone usually need anywhere from six weeks to six months to heal before you can get a long-term fix, depending on the replacement method you choose." So, to cover the gap between the six weeks to six months, flipper teeth come into play. Flipper teeth are lightweight, removable dentures that usually serve as a temporary tooth replacement option. Basically, they keep you from having to walk around with a visible gap in your teeth for several weeks. They also give you an improved ability to bite and chew food while you're waiting to get dentures or implants.

Flipper teeth are made mostly of acrylic resin and have two steel wire clasps, which makes them both relatively inexpensive, lightweight, and easy to use. They also look natural, easy to clean, and are quick to prepare.

However, while it would sound like it would be a cheaper substitute for dental implants. However, the vast amount of drawbacks does not make a flipper tooth ideal for long term use.

Drawbacks of Permanent Use

Flipper teeth are not ideal for permanent use for a number of reasons. All of which boils down to the quality of the materials. Resin and acrylic, while lightweight materials, are easier to break and need repairs. They are also at risk of causing gum recession. The material could stop or slow the flow of saliva in the area. Also, there is a chance the flipper tooth can wear down, causing the grip to loosen.

According to Dr. Chris Salierno, co-editor of Surgical-Restorative Resource, "I work pretty hard to keep patients out of flippers during implant therapy. They hate them with the fire of a thousand burning suns, and so do we. Patients don’t like that they’re removable and can be uncomfortable to wear. We don’t like them because there may be unintended soft tissue pressure, which can damage a healing graft or implant.”

Dental Implants are Better for Permanency

Dental implants better preserve your gums and replace tooth rot. This is because unlike flip tooth, it doesn't block any gum. So, access to saliva isn't an issue. Also, it is easier to clean than a bridge, and the crown is made of stronger materials. It also looks and functions like a regular tooth with less of a chance of it warping or wearing down because of its permanent fixture. So, if you are going to look for something that is more functional or at least less likely to cause long term damage, then you want to get a dental implant.

But are there situations when a patient should wear dental flippers for longer-term? There is, and that is where children are involved. Kids with missing teeth don't often have enough bone in for the implant or have teeth that are still shifting around as a result of growing. There would be little use for a dental implant if there is a second permanent tooth or they are still in the middle of adjusting. So, a flipper might be a long term solution until they are able to get dental implant surgery when they are fully grown.


Dental implants are a better permanent solution for tooth loss. Any sort of denture, whether it is for one tooth or several can increase the chances of your mouth being damaged in the long run. However, that doesn't often deter people, even if they know if it isn't the best option. So, for now, it still exists.

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