What the Real Reason My Toddler Can’t Get a Dental Flipper?

My son lost a tooth prematurely. He’s only three and it’s a front tooth. I’ve been told children’s teeth shift if the spaces are left open. I asked my pediatric dentist to provide him with a dental flipper. Instead, the dentist started shouting. He said it was the most ridiculous thing he’d ever heard. No child can sit still for a flipper. I’m not only offended, I’m sure with sedation it could be done. Unless you give me a better reason, I’m going to a different dentist.

Marilyn H. – Michigan


I’m sorry your dentist was rude. That’s not a great way to build trust with patients, especially when you’re talking about their child’s dental health. While I’m sure you could work with sedation, the pediatric dentist is right, a dental flipper is a bad idea. Here’s why.

1. A child’s mouth is constantly growing. The flipper won’t fit for long. You’d have to keep making a new one.
2. It’s a choking hazard. Flippers are removable appliances. Even if he didn’t pull at it, which is highly unlikely, it could just slip out and he’ll partially swallow it.

I have some great news for you, though. The only teeth where you have to worry about shifting are the back teeth. In those cases, we’d place a space maintainer to prevent the shifting. Also, your child’s age means he won’t be self-conscious about the tooth loss. In fact, he might be proud he’s the first among his friends to lose a baby teeth.

You didn’t mention how he lost his tooth. If it was due to trauma, it might be a good idea to have the adult tooth checked for damage. In the unlikely event the adult tooth is damaged, don’t panic. There are plenty of options for his adult tooth. Dentistry has developed tremendously. Even if he completely lost the adult tooth (and again, unlikely, so don’t panic), we now have dental implants that mimic having a natural tooth exactly, even down to the tooth root.

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Lumineers or Crowns for a Tooth Gap?

I have a gap between two of my teeth. I’d done some research. Before you roll your eyes I did go to my dentist with an open mind. My research said that Lumineers were the best solution. The teeth are healthy, so I figured something that didn’t require removing tooth structure was best. My dentist felt that Lumineers are flawed. I told him I was married to the brand. He could use any brand he wanted. He said all veneers have t he same problem. He suggested we do crowns and we do it right away. I’m hesitating because it means grinding down healthy teeth. What would you do?

Macy L. – Colorado


There’s nothing wrong with doing research. In your case, you had a good idea. Why remove healthy tooth structure? Your dentist was being honest too. If he says Lumineers or other brands of porcelain veneers will be problematic, it’s likely true— in his case. Not all dentists are skilled in cosmetic work. When that’s the case, they tend to go directly to porcelain crowns.

You have a couple of choices. 1. You can go along and do the procedure your dentist is comfortable with. Don’t press him to do the Lumineers. He won’t know what he’s doing and it won’t turn out the way you want. 2. You can go to a different, more skilled, cosmetic dentist. Then you can get the procedure you want. There’s another option that hasn’t been mentioned. Dental bonding is a good solution to a tooth gap. It doesn’t last as long as Lumineers, but dental bonding is significantly less expensive.

I would get Lumineers if you were interested in fixing more than just the gap. It can change the shape, size, and color of the teeth, completely remaking your smile. To me, that would make the expense of Lumineers worth it. Other than that, I’d likely go with the bonding procedure. Though, it’s up to you. Maybe you’d just rather have a procedure that won’t have to be re-done every few years.

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Affordable Dental Care for Domestic Violence Victims

I don’t know if there is a program available to help me, but I’m just hoping. I was in a difficult relationship where there was physical abuse. Most of my teeth have been broken or damaged, so my smile is ugly. I’ve left the abuser, but that puts me in the predicament of having to provide for myself. I’m having trouble getting a job because of my appearance. I can’t even get an entry level job such as working in a fast food place or a mall shop. I’m sure it’s my appearance keeping me from being hired, but I have no money to do anything about it. Are there any affordable ways to help people in my predicament?

Eileen K. – Washington


I’m sorry for what you’ve had to live through. Let me say, however, that you’re brave and strong for getting out of that situation. You’re likely right that the damage to your smile is keeping you from being hired. Though it is unfair, we’re an appearance driven society. I have a few things I want you to try out.

1. Do an internet search for an “affordable dentist” in your area. Dentists often go into the field because they want to help people. Dentists who advertise as affordable tend to be even more compassionate. They charge less because they want to help people without resources. If you explain your situation, you’ll likely find a dentist willing to work with you.

2. Another option is a longshot, but it’s worth trying. The Give Back a Smile Program is designed to help victims of domestic violence. Dentists donate their time to repair the smiles of victims who’ve suffered domestic violence. Obviously, they don’t have unlimited resources, but it’s worth applying.

3. Dental schools will treat patients at discounted prices. Bear in mind that those treating you are still learning, but they are well supervised by their instructors.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Kevin Peck.