What are flipper teeth?

The Flip Side of Flippers

As mentioned on the previous page, a dental professional will pre-fit you for flippers before extracting your teeth if possible, so you can put them in right after the procedure. Initially, you'll be adjusting to the flipper teeth, so you should eat a soft diet for the first week you have them. Keep them in your mouth for the first 24 hours after tooth removal to aid healing, then take them out, clean them and immediately put them back in. After that, you can remove your flipper teeth nightly for cleaning.

Flippers are intended to be temporary, but some people wear them indefinitely. Doing so requires regular care and plenty of caution, though, since they are not known for being sturdy. Proper flipper teeth upkeep involves removing them at night, scrubbing them with water or gentle toothpaste, and then soaking them in water overnight -- preferably with a denture tablet that provides some antifungal and antibacterial action. You can put them back in your mouth when you wake up in the morning.

Flipper teeth have some downsides to them, too. One reason they're usually not used for long-term tooth replacement is that their acrylic bands, which form the support structures that hold the false teeth, break easily. Manufacturers have started fabricating flipper teeth with thicker acrylic to compensate for the brittleness, but that makes the devices thicker overall and thus, less comfortable to wear -- especially early on when you're adjusting to them.

Also, since your gums and bone naturally recede to some degree after tooth loss, flipper teeth can become ill-fitting, and consequently quite uncomfortable. Over time, they'll also be more difficult to insert. When that happens, you'll need to have them realigned or get a new set of flipper teeth, and this will be a common occurrence if you use flipper teeth for a long period of time.

If you're worried about your appearance, another disadvantage of flipper teeth is that the metal clips or wires used to adhere the apparatus to your natural teeth may be visible to others when you eat, smile or talk. Also, since the artificial teeth used in flippers aren't implanted or otherwise affixed to your gums, they might feel unstable in your mouth.

So, flippers may not be the best long-term option for replacing lost teeth, but if you're looking for a temporary stopgap, they could be just what you need. Talk to your dentist about tooth replacement options that are best suited to your situation, and check out the next page for lots more information on flipper teeth.

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