My right lateral incisor is missing. I am 29 years old. My Mom says that I had a primary tooth in that spot, but the permanent tooth never erupted. My childhood pediatric dentist told my Mom that the tooth behind my incisor, the canine, would move forward. But the canine tooth is only partially in the incisor’s space, and I have gaps between my teeth that I want to close. Last month, I had a consultation with a dentist who said I need braces and a dental implant. But I don’t want braces. Is that my only option? Thanks for your help. Summer from Kansas
Unfortunately, your pediatric dentist didn’t address the issue when your primary incisor tooth came out. Many dentists recommend a temporary partial flipper to replace the missing tooth and preserve the space until you are ready for a dental implant.
Treatment for Missing Lateral Incisors
When a lateral incisor is missing, and a canine tooth is partially in its place, the canine tooth should be moved back. Afterward, an implant dentist can replace the lateral incisor with a dental implant.
Importance of canine teeth
Canine teeth are thick with long roots. They absorb lateral stress when you chew and protect back the pressure. The process is known as canine-protected occlusion. If a canine tooth is missing or in the wrong position, stress on back teeth can lead to tooth sensitivity, pain, and wear, and TMJ (temporomandibular joint) dysfunction. The results are painful and costly.
Missing lateral incisors and mislocated canine teeth detract from your smile. The shape of an incisor differs from a canine. It’s impossible to make a canine tooth look like an incisor without destroying the tooth’s structure.
A dentist can use orthodontics, including Invisalign, to move your teeth. The aligners are more expensive than traditional braces, but they are clear. People won’t notice them. If the dentist you visited didn’t mention Invisalign as an option, you can find an Invisalign provider with advanced training in occlusion and bite.
We recommend that you delay settling on treatment until you find a dentist to explain your options in a way that you understand.
Rekha Reddy, DDS of Dallas, TX, sponsors this post.