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What’s a Dental Flipper, and Why Might Your Child Need One

The premature loss of a baby tooth is either a problem that needs to be solved, or a mild (and temporary) inconvenience. Depending on your child's age, a tooth that is lost due to an accident may only be a short-term concern. An x-ray might be needed to confirm that the replacement adult tooth will soon emerge from your child's gums, and if so, no further action should be needed. But what about when it's likely to be months, or even years, before the adult tooth is scheduled to appear?

A Temporary Replacement

Have you heard of a dental flipper? The name might suggest a dolphin fin, but it's actually a dental prosthesis designed to act as a temporary tooth replacement system. Of course, a baby tooth only needs a temporary replacement system, since the adult tooth will become the permanent replacement. The pediatric dental specialists at your local clinic will be able to construct a dental flipper for your child. But what is a flipper, and what does it do?

Like a Partial Denture

A flipper looks (and functions) like a partial denture. It's a single prosthetic tooth attached to an acrylic base plate. It's both cosmetic and functional. It means your child won't have a gap in their smile for an extended period of time. It also fits into the empty dental socket, ensuring that the teeth on either side of the gap don't reposition themselves—meaning it acts as a placeholder for the adult tooth that will eventually fill the gap. It also allows your child to chew their food properly.

Life With a Flipper

Flippers often come with clasps, allowing the prosthesis to be held in place, which makes daily life easier for your child (since they don't need to worry about the flipper sliding out of position). It can't withstand the same bite pressure as a natural tooth, so eating with a flipper may involve some trial and error. Sticky, especially chewy foods have the ability to loosen the flipper (although it can easily be put back into position). Your child will need a series of flippers too, as they'll have to be upgraded in line with your child's rate of physical growth.

It's not ideal when a child needs a dental flipper, but it's a no-fuss, efficient way to replace a baby tooth until the adult tooth is ready to make its debut. For more information about flippers, contact pediatric dental specialists like Dentistry For Children & Adolescents.