My daughter is 18 years old. She has a missing tooth right next to her front tooth and it’s been that way for years. It wasn’t any fault of her own though. After the baby tooth fell out, the permanent tooth never filled in behind it. When I talked with the dentist when she was much younger, he told me that the tooth right next to it would shift over to fill the place. I guess it did kind of shift over a bit. But, there is still a gap and she hates it. She hardly ever smiles or wants to be in family pictures. It breaks my heart that it’s always on her mind.
The dentist brought up the possibility of her getting braces to move that canine tooth back into the correct position during a recent check up dentist appointment. He said the braces would shift the tooth over and then a dental implant could be done to replace the missing tooth.
The problem is that she absolutely doesn’t want metal braces. She thinks they are ugly and for kids in middle school. So, I was wondering if Invisalign is an option to help correct this problem. Or if you have any other ideas about how to get her smiling again, I would love to hear them.
-Jess in Minnesota
Unfortunately, you haven’t received the best advice so far. The plan to let the tooth shift to fill that space years ago was not the way to address this situation. Even if the tooth had shifted properly, it still wouldn’t have looked natural. The procedure could have been addressed pretty easily when your daughter’s baby tooth came out originally. A temporary partial flipper could have been used to replace the missing lateral incisor. It would have looked OK and would have worked just fine until you were ready to move forward with a more permanent fix for your daughter. That’s neither here nor there now. But, hopefully it will be helpful to any others that may be reading this post and encounter similar issues.
The next dentist that mentioned that the canine tooth should be re-positioned back to the original location is on the right track. The canine tooth is important for proper mouth function to protect the back teeth from sideways stress. The root is much longer and can absorb sideways stress better than other teeth. This is referred to as canine-protected occlusion. If the tooth isn’t in the correct position, it is possible your daughter will be dealing with more functional problems down the road that will be even more costly to fix. After the canine is shifted back in place, a dental implant is a great option to replace a missing tooth. It looks, functions and feels just like a normal tooth. A surgical post is implanted into the jawbone and a porcelain crown is placed on top of the post. No one will ever know she was missing a tooth.
Then, there are some aesthetic issues that are important to bring up. The size and shape of a canine tooth looks much different than an incisor. So, your daughter’s smile may never really look right. The lateral incisor is thin and more fragile in appearance. A canine tooth looks different. You don’t want to be in a position where they are reshaping the canine tooth to mimic the look of the incisor.
You also mentioned that your daughter is adamant that she does not want metal braces. That is understandable, and she may be an Invisalign candidate. Invisalign has an extremely high patient satisfaction rating, is more comfortable and looks more natural than traditional metal braces. From a conversational distance, no one will be able to tell your daughter is wearing the clear plastic aligners. This system uses highly sophisticated computer technology to gradually reposition teeth. You’ll just have to look around for an Invisalign dentist in your area.
Your daughter deserves to have a smile she loves. It would be good for her self confidence to move forward with this treatment plan.
Hopefully, this gives you some more information about how to move forward.Thank you for reaching out and sharing your story.
This post is sponsored by York PA dentist Donald H. Currie, DMD.