When you were a child, losing your front teeth was an exciting rite of passage. As an adult, a chipped or missing front tooth isn't as cute. Usually the result of some type of trauma, a chipped, cracked or accidental removal of your front tooth can leave you in pain and feeling self-conscious. With proper care, however, you won't have to deal with pain and embarrassment for long. Front tooth replacement options depend on the condition of remaining teeth, and your dentist can help you choose one of the following ways to fix your teeth and restore your smile.
Front Tooth Emergency
Chipping a tooth when eating hard foods, grinding teeth or bumping your mouth might be painful, but it's unlikely your dentist will consider it an emergency. In most cases, you can make a regular appointment with your dentist in the next day or two to discuss your options and have the chip filled. Unfortunately, if your front tooth is knocked out completely, you may need emergency care. The American Association of Endodontists warns that you should be seen by a dentist or endodontist within 30 minutes of the accident. If possible, pick up the tooth by the crown (not the roots) and keep the tooth moist in a cup of milk. You can also try rinsing the tooth and putting it back into the socket to keep it moist, as long as doing so isn't painful. Bring the lost tooth with you to your appointment. In some cases, the original tooth can be saved if you're seen up to an hour after it was knocked out.
Chipped, Cracked, and Missing Tooth Options
If your dentist can't save the tooth, or your tooth is only partially cracked or chipped, you'll need to discuss front tooth replacement options.
- Bonding. If you only have a small crack or chip and the rest of your tooth is in good condition (not requiring a root canal or extraction), your dentist may be able to bond your tooth. This involves molding a composite material to cover the crack or chip, which is then cured to mimic the hardness of tooth enamel. Bonding can last for five to 10 years and can perfect your smile when full tooth extraction isn't required.
- Implant. If your dentist decides to extract your tooth or your front tooth has been completely knocked out, they may suggest an implant. An implant is a post, typically made from titanium, that is placed and screwed into the bone to support a new false tooth. Implants require surgery, so you'll need to be in good health and have enough bone to support the implant. The American Dental Association warns that because the post must be placed and healed before a new tooth can be adhered, it can take 4-6 months for the process to be completed.
- Fixed bridge. While an implant doesn't disturb adjacent teeth, a bridge actually uses adjacent teeth as leverage to hold a new tooth in place. Your dentist preps the two adjacent teeth by filing them in order to fit the bridge. The bridge looks like three or more teeth attached together over the gap. Bridges look and function like regular teeth and are usually less expensive and quicker than implants, making them a good alternative for emergency cases.
- Partial removable dentures. When you think about dentures, you might imagine full rows of teeth. But partial dentures can fill in teeth that have been extracted or knocked out without having to remove all of your teeth. Partial removable dentures are fitted to your mouth and adhered to your gumline or clasped to remaining teeth. The dentures can then be removed for cleaning. They are usually the least expensive option for missing teeth, but might not be as durable as other options.
It doesn't need to be Christmas for you to want your two front teeth. If you're missing a tooth from the front of your mouth, getting it taken care of quickly and comfortably can help you avoid future issues. Talk to your dentist about your options, and you'll be able to choose a treatment that restores your smile and your confidence.