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What's the best way to replace a missing tooth or teeth?


OK, so you've lost a tooth. Whether it was lost due to gum disease, severe decay, or trauma, you're still stuck with the same problem...a missing tooth. Your dentist may have spent a couple of minutes explaining your options and now a staff member is standing over you asking you to decide how you want the tooth replaced.  Obviously if there were an easy answer to the question I wouldn't feel the need to write this article.

The method you choose to replace a missing tooth depends on a number of different factors, all of which are nearly equal in importance.  The factors to consider include cost, time, longevity, comfort, esthetics, convenience, and the effects of the treatment on the adjacent teeth and the rest of the mouth.  You have the four basic options below, and remember we are speaking about replacing a single missing tooth here.

  1. Do not replace the tooth
  2. Removable partial denture
  3. Fixed bridge
  4. Dental implant

These options are listed in order of increasing desirability and not surprisingly also in order of increasing cost.  Let's examine each choice in more detail.

One convenience of a missing tooth...

One convenience of a missing tooth...

Not Replacing a Tooth

Is it OK to not replace a single lost tooth? Yes! (Well the real answer is "It depends....") It is not the end of the world to lose a tooth, although there are consequences depending on the location of the lost tooth. If it is a wisdom tooth (what we refer to as the third molar) I would definitely say do not replace it. In fact, for wisdom teeth, I would say take the other three out as well! Few people have room in their jaws for the wisdom teeth and they are usually impacted or crowded. If your wisdom teeth did erupt properly and you do have space for them and lost one I would still say do not replace it. They are too far back in the mouth for accessibility to perform restorative procedures well. You will not percieve a loss of chewing ability, you will not see a defect in your smile, and you will not see any effect on your facial structure (like "sunken in" cheeks). If the tooth you have lost is the second molar, that is, the last tooth in the back (assuming there is no tooth behind it, i.e. the wisdom tooth), you could seriously consider not replacing it as well. Clinical studies indicate that even with all four of your second molars missing, you ability to chew food properly is not significanly altered. A lost second molar rarely effects your smile or facial structure and appearance. However you must be aware that the tooth that opposes the lost tooth may supererupt. That is, an upper tooth that does not have a lower tooth to chew against will migrate down until it finds something to stop it, and vice versa. This does not always happen, but your dentist can monitor for it at your semiannual check-ups. A supererupted tooth may not necessarily cause problems. Problems can be prevented or dealt with simply by your dentist.  Like a lot of things, early detection leads to simple solutions.  Any other lost tooth should be replaced as a loss of chewing abiltity will be noticed as well as a change in your appearance.  If there are one or more teeth behind a lost tooth, drifting and tilting of these teeth usually occurs.  This can lead to a number of serious complications that include developing bite problems and even loss of additional teeth.  So if you have lost an important tooth, get it replaced!  One of the three tooth replacement options below should suit you.  All three of these options will provide the benefit of preventing tooth movement and maintaining your appearance.

Example of Flipper fabrication

Example of Flipper fabrication

A Flipper in place

A Flipper in place

The Removable Partial Denture

The most inexpensive tooth replacement option is the acrylic removable partial denture, AKA "the Flipper." One study in the Journal of Dental Research (J Dent Res.1996 Feb;75 Spec No:714-25) reported that one in five people aged 18 - 74 wear a removable partial denture of one sort or another.  There are many varieties of removable partial dentures and they are made to replace from one to many missing teeth.  The "Flipper" is most inexpensive type.  However for replacing just one tooth, it is a lot of "hardware" in your mouth.  That is, along with the artificial denture tooth that fills the gap in your smile, there is a plastic framework that covers all or a part of the roof of you mouth.  This is necesary to keep the denture tooth in position and provide retention to keep the partial denture in your mouth.  Additionally, flexible wire clasps are sometimes present to grab onto key teeth for additional retention of the partial denture.  All of this material in your mouth is one of the drawbacks of this technique for tooth replacement.  Because the denture tooth is not rigidly fixed in your mouth, the partial denture will always have some movement when chewing.  Patient's often find this movement unsatisfactory.  Sixty-five percent of partial denture wearers have some problem or complaint with it (J Dent Res. 1996 Feb;75 Spec No:714-2).  Despite it's drawbacks, because of the much greater costs of the other tooth replacement options, the "Flipper" is a popular choice.

Adjacent teeth prepared for bridge.

Adjacent teeth prepared for bridge.

Bridge in place.

Bridge in place.

The Fixed Bridge

The fixed bridge, or what we refer to as a fixed partial denture, is the next tooth replacement option we'll discuss. A fixed bridge requires preparing, that is cutting down, the teeth on either side of the missing tooth.  This is not terribly conservative treatment.  Tooth preparation of the adjacent teeth is irreversible and involves the removal of quite a bit of tooth structure.  See the photo on right.  I know it may seem a bit barbaric, but for the longest time it was the only way to provide a fixed, non-removable replacement tooth.  Providing this service well is technically demanding and will require all of your dentist's skill.  A well made fixed bridge can look natural, function well, and potentially last a lifetime.  However, 75% of fixed bridges fail within 7 years.  The fixed bridge is at least three teeth connected together with the false tooth (the replacement tooth) in the middle.  Because the teeth are connected, you cannot pop dental floss between them.  Instead you must thread the floss through underneath where the teeth are connected or use a special small brush to get under the connectors.  People tend to neglect to perform this inconvenient extra step in their oral hygiene routine.  This contributes to the relative high rate of failure.  Also, the extra stress on the teeth supporting the fixed bridge can lead to mechanical breakdown and thus adds to the failure rate.  The fixed bridge is still the treatment of choice for many patients.

Diagram comparing natural tooth (on left) with implant tooth (on right). Image courtesy of Nobel Biocare patient education materials.

Diagram comparing natural tooth (on left) with implant tooth (on right). Image courtesy of Nobel Biocare patient education materials.

Implant crown in place (same patient as top 2 images)

Implant crown in place (same patient as top 2 images)

The Dental Implant

 The dental implant can be the best method for replacing a missing tooth in most cases.  It involves surgically placing a titanium artificial root (the implant) into the space that the root of the lost tooth occupied.  A crown is then connected to the implant.  See diagram to the right.  One benefit of this tooth replacement method is that the adjacent teeth are left unaltered.  The dental implant and its crown are a free-standing self-supporting total tooth replacement.  That is, the root of the tooth as well as the crown of the tooth are replaced and the new tooth does not rely on the adjacent teeth for support.  Clinical studies show that unaltered teeth adjacent to an implant have a much better long-term prognosis than teeth supporting a fixed bridge.  Because the dental implant is not connected to the adjacent teeth it can be flossed and maintained exactly as you would your natural teeth.  Modern dental implants have been in use since the late 1950s and research & development have improved the technology to now be one of the most successul forms of treatment in dentistry today.  The cost of the single tooth dental implant can be nearly the same as that of the fixed bridge depending on the circumstances.  Finally, the dental implant has the same chance to last a lifetime as one of your natural teeth.  Look for my next article explaining using dental implants for replacing single missing teeth in more detail.


Jen on June 19, 2015:

I'm feeling so upset, thinking that my 2nd molar on the lower jaw on each side (broken decayed and root canal) will be extracted. I am also concerned what will be the consequence of losing them. I have read that it will cause a lost of some ability to chew food properly. And the teeth on either side of the missing tooth space will move and tilt off their proper vertical axis and drift into the missing tooth’s space. What should I do?

wm on May 07, 2013:

hi , I'm wondering if i can replace a lost tooth by using braces to pull my wisdom tooth to its spot , will this have any implications ? my dentist said there wouldn't be any but I'm still curious as too whether its perfectly okay ? it's a second pre-molar on the top row btw ! kinda regret plucking it out although it was irrirating me due to infection before research , thanks for the reply in advance !

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Rich S. on March 30, 2013:

Dr. Appleton,

I have been searching the internet for hours looking for the best advice for what to do with a missing #18, since the tooth above is beginning to drop a little.

I found more information in all of your comment replies than on the entire internet. Thank you so much for taking the time to make such detailed responses. They are truly a public service and I am very, very grateful for your work.

Sharon on March 15, 2013:


Stellar Phoenix Review on February 22, 2013:

This design is incredible! You definitely know how to keep a reader happy. Between your wit and your awesome content, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well, almost..aha) Excellent job. I really enjoyed what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it. Too cool! Stellar Phoenix

Dr Appleton (author) from Baton Rouge, Louisiana on February 02, 2013:


Once again I'll qualify my advice by stating the best dental health advice can only be given by a qualified dentist who has performed a thorough examination of your mouth.

The tooth that has existing root canal treatment may have a better chance of successful retreatment than average. Only a qualified Endodontist (root canal specialist) can determine the long-term prognosis for your tooth. If the first root canal treatment was performed poorly and this is the reason for its failure then retreatment by an Endodontist will likely be successful. Preserving the tooth is almost always the preferred choice assuming the entire tooth can be successfully restored back to good health.

Here are my recommendations:

First get the needed treatment to get out of pain. You have done this by having the root canal treatment on the painful tooth.

Second, stop the madness and patchwork dentistry! Find a reputable dentist that you can trust. Have him or her perform a comprehensive examination including any radiographs necessary to gather all information needed to determine the health of all of your teeth and gums. They may even make madels of both jaws. Then this dentist should take the time to create a comprehensive treatment plan. It should be a document illustrating step-by-step the treatment each tooth or area needs and it should be arranged from high priority needs to low priority needs. Each step should also clearly state the costs involved and what portion of that cost you must pay yourself (that is, not covered by insurance or government benefit).

Only after this has been accomplished will you be empowered by the information you must have to make good decisions regarding your healthcare. Don't wait, start today!

And yes, general dentists can extract (pull) teeth.

Do your research and find a dentist you can trust. Find someone with the time and patience to perform a proprer exam and to sit down with you and explain everything to your satisfaction. Let me know how it goes, and good luck!

- Dr Appleton

Jeanie on February 02, 2013:

Hi Dr Appleton,

Thank you so much for replying to me. I have an update on the situation now. Over the past two or three days I was unable to eat or drink anything as the pain was unbearable. I rang one of the specialist my dentist referred me to. They saw me yesterday and said it was the tooth beside my original RCT tooth that was causing me pain! He did a RCT treatment on it and gave me pain killers. He said the original RCT tooth would definitely have to be redone and that I had a chronic infection. He said antibiotics dont work and to stop taking them and only take for abscess and swelling.

I told him I couldn't afford the other one to be redone (I will be paying for yesterdays one for months now)and he said it had to be done soon, I said what about extraction but he was dead against it.

I have to go back friday to finish yesterdays work and discuss the retreatment. But as you say the success rate is not good and with my immune system I don't have much confidence.

I'm worried about the other teeth on my lower gum now as if the tooth beside the RCT treated tooth was so bad what are the other ones like. There were no xrays taken of any of the other teeth. I told him about the burning stabbing feeling in my pain and jaw and he said that it wasn't the tooth or infection doing that and that I probably have a diabetic facial neuropathy and wants me to see a specialist about this. I explained that I had the same pain when I had the original abscess before RCT and that it went away after treatment, he said it was a coincidence.

When it comes to extracting an infected tooth could any dentist do it or should I be looking for a specialist? I am going to mention again when I go back that financially and because of my immune system I'd rather have an extraction but I have a feeling he's going to try to talk me out of it.

Thanks again,


Dr Appleton (author) from Baton Rouge, Louisiana on January 31, 2013:


I'm sorry you are suffering and in pain. You are right to question having the root canal treatment on your tooth redone. While the success rate for properly performed endodontic treatment is 97% or better, the success rate for endodontic re-treatment is around 65%. To me, this is rather poor odds for the money, especially considering poorly controlled diabetic patients will have increased incidence of complications. I certainly do NOT recommend trying to fight the infection with long-term antibiotic treatment. This is a very bad idea. An infected tooth can only be treated by endodontic therapy or extraction. There is no other solution. Period. Only your personal dentist can give you the best advice, but I would strongly consider extracting the tooth and having a simple acrylic removable partial denture (the "flipper") made. it can be made secure and comfortable with little effort and it can be modified and refined as needed almost indefinitely. This will allow you to buy time to recover your strength and get an implant. If your surrounding teeth are in great shape, do not get them cut down for a fixed bridge. Get the tooth out as soon as possible. Get the acrylic partial denture made within a month after that. Do not keep that infection in your mouth as it can spread and damage adjacent healthy teeth. Let me know how it goes, and good luck!

- Dr. Appleton

JeanieF on January 30, 2013:


I have an infection in root canal treated tooth, after an abscess five years ago was cleaned out I had to get RCT. Im a type 1 diabetic with a not very good immune system and have suffered numerous gum infections since the first rct. I went to the dentist two days ago as my gum and face are burning up and swollen. He took xrays and said the RCT needed to be redone and that it would cost €850 and gave me a referral let to an Endodontist.

I can't afford the treatment, so I rang him back and asked if an extraction and bridge was possible, he said my teeth weren't suitable for bridge so extraction and implant was the only option which would be €1900.

Im in a lot of pain, on antibiotics two days now and pain seems worse. I really need to do something as soon as possible as my blood sugars are very uncontrollable due to infection, the last time this happened I was on holiday and had to get emergency treatment to have the abscess removed as the antibiotics I was on didn't work.

Iv rang my dentist and a few other places and they all advise against extraction and tell me to try and find the money to have rct redone but I litterally can not afford it! Also if the first one didn't work what are the chances of a second one!?

Anyway I really need some help deciding whether to get it out and concentrate on healing and getting my immune system back in check or to stay in pain on antibiotics for the next 6months-1year until I save for rct to be redone and have the necessary crown done. Would extraction and partial denture be a good idea? Im 32 and it is a pre molar on bottom teeth (think it is number 29) I have no problems with any other teeth and my dentist said my teeth are in great condition and well looked after other than the rct treated tooth.

Any advise would be much appreciated,



Dr Appleton (author) from Baton Rouge, Louisiana on December 27, 2012:


I do usually recommend socket preservation. The resulting healing from the extraction is superior afterwards when compared with simply extracting the tooth and leaving a crater in the bone. This crater can sometimes lead to bone loss to the neighboring tooth which could compromise its health. Socket preservation is a simple form of bone grafting and bone augmentation. These terms refer to the same thing. Socket preservation is simply bone grafting within an extraction socket. This preserves the bone (it doesn't preserve the socket, which would be silly...) and fills the socket in to create a nice smooth ridge instead of a crater in the bone. This can make putting an implant in later easier or it can make a better ridge upon which a removable partial denture or complete denture can rest. Simply put, it preserves the bone and that's usually a good thing. Socket preservation usually costs from around $400 or more, depending upon the volume of the socket and the usually and customary fees in your geographic area. Let me know how it goes, and good luck!

- Dr. Appleton

Dr Appleton (author) from Baton Rouge, Louisiana on December 27, 2012:


Most people will not notice any loss of chewing function when the third molars (the wisdom teeth, teeth numbers 1, 16, 17, & 32) are removed. In fact, most people's wisdom teeth do not fully erupt into the mouth and can cause a number of problems throughout life and having them removed solves the problems they create. If money is tight, then having the offending second molars (teeth numbers 2, 15, 18, and 31) removed is not the end of the world. You should see no change in your facial appearance and you should see no real loss of chewing function. Saving the second and third molars can be expensive and if the other teeth need attention, the money will be better spent on them. Your priority should be to preserve your first molar teeth and all the teeth forward of them. That is, try to save teeth 3 - 14 and 19 - 30. So your periodontist's plan for only replacing tooth #19 is a sound one. However, your general dentist should have completed a comprehensive examination and should have formulated a comprehensive treatment plan coordinated with your periodontist. Your general dentist should be informed by your periodontist what make and model of implant will be placed into site 19 as well as its diameter and length. The implant needs to be the right size for supporting a molar crown and it needs to be placed in exactly the right spot and at the right angle to best serve to support your new tooth #19. I recommend having your general dentist fabricate a surgical guide to aid the implant placement surgery. Now it sounds like you may have additional dental problems pending. You may consider having only a provisional implant crown #19 placed and maintained for a while during which time your other teeth can receive the treatment they need. A provisional implant crown is less expensive than a porcelain crown or metal crown and it is easily removed and reinserted to improve access for treating the neighboring teeth. Also, if the teeth forward of #19 fail and need to be replaced, then one more implant can be placed and then a bridge can be inserted that extends from the implant 19 to the other implant. This repurposing of implant 19 will require the crown 19 to be discarded, but if it was a provisional crown then less money will have been lost. Provisional crowns are usually made of acrylic or composite resin. You should not have to be making these decisions alone. Your dentist should have discussed the different possibilities with you and should have a plan ready. If he or she does not have the time for treatment planning with you, then find another dentist who you can trust, or better yet, seek out a Prosthodontist. We specialize in planning complex cases. Your treatment plan can also be prioritized and broken down into manageable phases. Let me know how it goes, and good luck!

- Dr. Appleton

Dr Appleton (author) from Baton Rouge, Louisiana on December 27, 2012:

I received the following email recently and felt it would be good to share with everyone. - Dr. Appleton

Good evening Dr. Appleton,

I sincerely want to say thank you for this article, I am currently going through a situatiuon with my teeth I would like an opninion on. I was diagnosed with acute necrotizing gingivitis when I was 19, I had a skin graft on a lower front tooth, I continued with care for a while it was under a control. Over the past five years, however, things have become increasingly stressful for me as I have become a single parent and now really truly THE ONLY PARENT. she is 13 almost 14 so she isn't a baby but it has been a difficult 5 years..I did not receive treatment during this time and finally went last month due to excrutiating pain on the left side of my mouth and more recession. I saw a general dentist and peridontist. The general dentist at first implied removing a few of my back teeth then she sent me to the perio who wants to give me a full upper denture and a partial lower denture. He said it would make me look best and any other investment would be a waste of my money as he couldn't guarantee I wouldn't be back in the same sitaution in another 5 years. I decided to see a second perio..He was much more caring...He wants to remove teeth 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19. He wants to put an implant in tooth 19s place, he says I can live without the other four and its the first step to restoring my bite. What is your opinion on this? I noticed in the article you mentioned the loss of wisdom teeth and 2nd molars are no big deal, does this apply if you are losing both the lower and upper wisdom teeth and second molars? I honestly am NOT prepared for dentures, I can not psychologically handle the idea..but if this truly is the best way to go, should I go ahead and do it or is extracting teeth 15, 16,17,18,19 and replacing 19 with an implant good enough for now? Thank you for your time and opinions


theperegrine on August 13, 2012:

Dr. Appleton,

I'm unemployed...a crown on one of my upper 2nd molars just broke off, with part of the's badly broken down. I assume I'll have to get it extracted , but I can't afford an implant. Would you recommend "socket preservation" on that socket? How much does "socket preservation" cost? Is it the same as "bone grafting" or "bone augmentation?"

Dr Appleton (author) from Baton Rouge, Louisiana on August 02, 2012:


The answer regarding how long dental implant treatment takes is ... it depends. If your other teeth are sound and support your bite well and the sites where the implants are going to be placed have adequate volume of bone and the bone is dense and ideal for receiving a dental implant, then the implants can be placed right away and a temporary bridge can be placed on the implants immediately. This can only be done in ideal cases. If the bone at the implants sites is inadequate then it may need to be augmented by bone grafting. This bone grafting can sometimes be done at the same time as implant placement or sometimes the implants must be placed after the bone grafting has healed and consolidated with the native bone. If your case is not ideal and the implants can be placed right away but cannot yet support a bridge then you will likely have to wait 4 - 6 months for the implants to integrate into the bone before they can be used to support a bridge. During this time you will continue to wear your removable partial denture while you wait. Make sure this denture is properly adjusted over the implants to prevent disturbing the surgical sites and harming the healing of the bone around the implants. If the bone at the implant sites is inadequate in volume to place the implants right away, then you will need bone grafting, often called guided bone regeneration, to prepare the sites for the implants. This bone grafting will need to heal 4 - 6 months, then the implants can be placed, then the implants need to heal 4 - 6 months, then the implants can begin to support a bridge.

Implant dentistry can be complicated. Make sure you choose a dentist who is trained and experienced in implant dentistry. Typically an oral surgeon or periodontist performs the surgical aspects of the treatment and a prosthodontist or well-trained general dentist fabricates the bridge that is connected to the implants. These two must plan your case together and coordinate their efforts. They usually work as a team. Make sure a well-known brand of implant is being used. Make sure you know what kind of bridge is being made and how it will be connected to the implants. Bridges can be made from materials that range from cheap to expensive. Bridges made from porcelain fused to titanium or porcelain fused to zirconium that are precision milled are usually the best.

A fixed bridge that is made to connect to your natural teeth can be made much quicker. Technology exists to make a porcelain bridge right there while you wait in an hour or so. Typically a temporary bridge is placed and then two or three weeks later your porcelain bridge is ready to be connected. The teeth that support this bridge should be healthy and strong.

Any major dental work you are planning should be a part of a comprehensive dental treatment plan so that your entire mouth is healthy and all of your teeth are strong. Just treating one area of the mouth while the rest has serious problems will lead to failure. The teeth all work together as a system. This is why seeing your local dentist who you will have ready access to is the best way to be treated. If you don't care for your local dentist for any reason, then find another nearby who you like and trust. Dental tourism may save money, but beware the risks. Let me know how it goes, and good luck!

- Dr. Appleton on July 08, 2012:

lost my front teeth 28years ago and have been on a denture. visited Dubai last month and met a Dentist. He advised me to come for a Bridge that my suporting teethes has been slightly damaged and advice a bridge from after ready all the analysis its like implant is better but how long does the implant takes for he said the bridge take like 4 to 5 days

Dr Appleton (author) from Baton Rouge, Louisiana on July 07, 2012:


You're very welcome! It's nice to hear back from someone to let me know how they are doing!

- Dr Appleton

Peter Stapleton on July 05, 2012:

Thank you, Dr. Appleton. Your advice is sensible, I will consult a good orthodontist as you suggested and let you know how I get on.

Dr Appleton (author) from Baton Rouge, Louisiana on June 30, 2012:


That's a tough question because it is very case-specific. In general symmetry is good for a properly aligned bite as well as for esthetics. But asymmetry can be overcome in the right situation. A good orthodontist can recommend the proper treatment. If you trust your orthodontist and you express your concerns about your bite (you should be concerned about it) you will be ok in any case. Let me know how it goes, and good luck!

- Dr Appleton

Dr Appleton (author) from Baton Rouge, Louisiana on June 30, 2012:


Congenitally missing one to three teeth is not that unusual. Congenitally missing many teeth is rare. It is true that the deciduous teeth (the baby teeth or the first set) can remain in your mouth and not exfoliate (fall out) when the adult teeth are not present. However the size of the baby teeth is smallerl and the enamel layer is thinner and the roots are shorter and narrower than adult teeth. So baby teeth that remain in the adult mouth do not usually perform well and do not usually last. They are prone to severe wear and the are prone to becoming loose for a number of reasons.

I recommend you get a consultation with a Prosthodontist. We are specialists in replacing missing teeth among other things. The most common diagnosis for multiple congenitally missing teeth is that it is an inherited trait. That is, it's your genetics. You could very well pass your problem on to your offspring although possibly in a less severe form or possibly not at all. See a Prosthodontist right away and get answers to your questions. Let me know how it goes, and good luck!

- Dr Appleton

Dr Appleton (author) from Baton Rouge, Louisiana on June 30, 2012:


Congenitally missing teeth (teeth that one is born without) are not terribly uncommon. The maxillary (upper) lateral incisors and the third molars ( the wisdom teeth) are also frequently missing at birth. You are correct in stating that the second premolars are functional teeth however this may or may not be detrimental depending upon your specific situation. If your bite comes together properly and there are no gaps between the teeth then missing second premolars is not detrimental. Do not assume you can tell if your bite is at its best. You need a dental professional to evaluate your mouth. I recommend you see a well- recommended orthodontist in your area.

Wisdom teeth rarely erupt properly and can be challenging to keep clean. They can interfere with your bite and they can develop a host of other problems over your lifetime. IF your lower teeth are properly aligned and IF your bite is proper and IF your lower wisdom teeth have fully erupted and can be accessed for proper oral care then you should consider leaving your lower teeth alone. If there are any compromises to the wisdom teeth have them removed while you are young.

Do not do anything until after you have consulted with an orthodontist. He or she can advise you best on what to do. Ask your dentist who is recommended. Ask friends and family who they have seen and if their experience was positive. Some orthodontists are more expert in adult orthodontic treatment than others. Let me know how it goes, and good luck!

- Dr Appleton

Dr Appleton (author) from Baton Rouge, Louisiana on June 29, 2012:


You should discuss dental implants BEFORE you have any teeth removed. Otherwise just wait until the site is comfortable enough to touch (usually a couple of weeks) and get an implant consultation. Same thing for the flipper (interim removable partial denture).

It is not normal to have continuing dental problems. You need to ask your dentist to perform a comprehensive examination of your teeth and mouth. This can take 45 minutes to over an hour. A 5 minute quick check of your teeth is not adequate. The comprehensive exam should then lead to a diagnosis and then a treatment plan or a referral to a specialist for further investigation then a diagnosis and treatment plan. If you cannot get this from your dentist then find a dentist you can trust and who gives you confidence in his or her abilities. Let me know how it goes, and good luck!

- Dr Appleton

Dr Appleton (author) from Baton Rouge, Louisiana on June 29, 2012:

I have read published research about manipulation of tissues and stem cells to create rudimentary teeth. This science is a very long way from being possible or useful for replacing human teeth. It will happen. Just not in my lifetime. Teeth are ver complicated to grow. There are thirty two different anatomic forms of teeth in the human mouth. Each tooth has pulp tissue consisting of complex layers of cells, nerves, and tiny blood vessels. This pulp is surrounded by dentin which is surrounded by enamel for the crowns and cementum for the roots. The roots are held fast into the bony sockets ny the periodontal ligament. Science has developed methods for growing bone and skin and other simple tissues but useful and healthy teeth are a very long way from being "cultured" or "seeded". You'll have to stick with conventional dentistry for now and many years to come. Thanks for the interesting question!

- Dr Appleton

Dr Appleton (author) from Baton Rouge, Louisiana on June 29, 2012:


A "flipper" (also known as an interim removable partial denture) can be an acceptable means for inexpensive tooth replacement. It could work quite well in your particular situation. They can be quite comfortable when the dental spaces are bounded on both sides by teeth. The denture teeth will then be supported by the neighboring teeth and not so much by the underlying gum tissue. The key to any comfortable flipper is its design and how well it is fabricated.

Make sure that occlusal rests are placed in the proper locations. Occlusal rests are short flat lengths of rigid wire that lap over the top (the chewing surface, or occlusal surface) of the teeth that support the flipper. Occlusal rests prevent the denture teeth from being driven down into the underlying gum tissue when you chew with them. The spots on the teeth where these rests will sit often need to be ground down a little to create space for them so that they don't interfere with your bite. Those spots are known as occlusal rest seats. Make sure the flipper is made out of acrylic. This type of plastic has been around foe a long time. But it performs exceptionally well for flippers. The flipper must be rigid and adaptable. Do not get a flipper made from a flexible material like Valplast. An acylic flipper can have more denture teeth added to it if you lose more teeth in the future Your flipper can also have flexible wire retentive clasps. These flex over the contours of key teeth and gently engage a spot just beyond the height of contour to help hold the flipper in place. A well-designed and well-executed flipper can serve you well for quite some time while you get control of your oral health. It can be comfortable and relatively functional and it can serve to prevent drifting and tilting of teeth. A poorly designed or executed flipper can be uncomfortable, painful, and even be harmful to your teeth and oral health.

Flipper prices vary from region to region. I believe from $450 to $1200 should be expected. Dental insurance usually pays for around 50% of the cost. you usually get what you pay for. It takes time and expertise to do flippers well. Find a dentist that you trust and ask a lot of questions.

Let me know how it goes and good luck!

- Dr Appleton

andy on June 20, 2012:

hi dr appleton,

im wondering if tooth extraction for braces need to be symmetric? coz, i met with an orthodontist and he said i can do braces with 3 molars and 1 bicuspid extracted. my case involves a lot of things, but i was just concerned if my bite will be okay in the end? i know it may change my bite and stuff but will my teeth still fit together?

brittany on June 20, 2012:

I am 21 years old, I lost a tooth five years ago. #25. It wasn't a permanent tooth, so we (the dentist) and family assumed that the permanent tooth would grow in, not thinking anything of it. However, it never grew in. I had x-rays done, and there in fact, was nothing underneath. Also in the x-ray, other teeth (which were not permanent) also had nothing underneath and some were a little loose- but no other teeth have come out or very loose. The dentist said he hadn't really seen a situation like mine. He remarked that most people who do not have permanent teeth underneath, don't usually have the problem of the first set falling out/coming loose. He recommended that I see a pediatric dentist, and I did... they too, didn't really have an explanation or answers. (This was three years ago) I have really just had a fear of hearing any other "I don't knows" and afraid of going to see another dentist. I guess I'm just looking for an opinion, any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you for your time!

Dr Appleton (author) from Baton Rouge, Louisiana on June 11, 2012:


Unfortunately if you do not have teeth behind the missing teeth you cannot have a fixed bridge. It is possible to create a cantilevered bridge by preparing the two teeth in front of the missing tooth and extending the bridge back to replace the lost tooth, but it is a biomechanical nightmare. I do not recommend cantilevered bridges for the replacement of missing molars or premolars. I would get a second opinion about the possibility for implants. It may be possible to perform bone grafting or other procedures to be able to place implants. Oral & maxillofacial surgeons and periodontists are specialists in these procedures. Find one you trust and ask questions. If the damage to the bone is really irreparable, then your only choices are the removable partial denture or not replacing the teeth. If you chose to not replace the teeth make sure you speak to your dentist about preventing drifting or supereruption of the lower second molars. A simple retainer that you wear at night may be all you need. You will quite likely find that as long as you have healthy teeth from right first molar to left first molar you will not suffer any diminished ability to chew when you lack your second molars. Treat your remaining teeth like valuable investments. They are essential! See about bone grafting and dental implants for your upper second molars. Let me know how it goes, and good luck!

- Dr. Appleton

Dr Appleton (author) from Baton Rouge, Louisiana on June 11, 2012:


You are right to be concerned about replacing your hopeless tooth with a fixed bridge. I would not recommend having two healthy teeth prepared for the sake of supporting a bridge for one tooth. A "regular" removable partial denture (one with a custom cast metal framework) is also a bit much for replacing a single tooth. I would recommend replacing your tooth with a dental implant. The negative information about titanium dental implants is slight. The worst case scenarios are extremely rare and not necessarily proven to be linked to the dental implant in question. New information does not become scientific fact until it has been tested and proven over and over. Science is slow because getting the truth is important. Great volumes of scientific information has been gathered on dental implants. A great volume of dental implant scientific studies are constantly ongoing. The safety record of titanium implants is very strong. So who do you believe? Well that's the real question. The only way to make good health care decisions is arm yourself with good information. The only way to get good information is to trust a health care profession you trust. Find a dentist you trust. One who is well-informed or even a specialist in the topic. Get a thorough examination. Sit down and discuss everything, no matter how minor or how unusual, with him or her. If they take the time to explain your situation and your treatment options and if they take the time to answer your questions to your satisfaction, and you have confidence in their skills, and you feel like they are not just trying to sell your something, and you feel they actually care about helping you, then you've got a winner. You have to find someone you trust. If all of the above do not apply, then keep searching for someone else. When you find the right health care provider they can help you find other trustworthy providers. It is worth the effort.

Regarding keeping bone loss to a minimum before implant placement: If you are not going to have an implant placed immediately upon extracting the hopeless tooth (usually the ideal treatment) then you should have socket preservation performed. This is where the dentist extracts the tooth, carefully cleans the socket, and places bone grafting material into the socket, often covering the material with a membrane. Different materials have different performance characteristics. Some are better used when an implant will be placed shortly thereafter. Others are better used when a prolonged period of time will pass before dental implant placement. Only the dentist performing the procedure can best advise what material to use for your specific situation. Get an opinion from an oral & maxillofacial surgeon or periodontist. Both are specialists in these types of surgeries. Find someone you trust. Let me know how it goes, and good luck!

- Dr. Appleton

Peter Stapleton on June 11, 2012:

Dr. Appleton.

I am congenitally missing all four of my second premolars, the same as my mother and maternal grandmother. I have read around that the second premolars are functional teeth and missing them can be detrimental to your jaw. On the top jaw, despite the missing top second premolars I do not have space in my jaw for my wisdom teeth and they came through impacted. I had one of them removed and the second molar there has moved back a little to compensate. On my bottom jaw I have room for my wisdom teeth and they came through pretty straight. In your opinion am I better off removing the bottom wisdom teeth and moving my first and second molars back and having implants for the second premolars before. Or am I better of with the missing second premolars and keeping my lower wisdom teeth? I know this is probably case specific, but typically is it better to have second premolars than wisdom teeth? I'm guessing that it is.



Erick32 on June 08, 2012:

Dr. Appleton

I had two teeth taken out on Tuesday and so far I am recovering nicely, ( the two were on the right upper back two) I had my wisdom teeth pulled out about 12 years ago. Just a couple of questions for you. 1. How long should you wait after the removal should you wait to find out about implants? Or a flapper? I try to take the best care of my teeth, brushing ,flossing,and the normal care but I still have issues, is this normal to still have teeth problems?

Thank you for any answer you can give me.


Dr Appleton (author) from Baton Rouge, Louisiana on June 07, 2012:


It is usually good that the wisdom teeth are removed. Statistically they usually end up causing problems over time. Some of the problems can be quite severe. Lacking the wisdom teeth behind your second molars does not necessary cause them to be mobile, or wiggly. Teeth usually become mobile due to bone loss around the roots, among other reasons. Your second molars may have already had bone loss prior to the removal of your wisdom teeth and their mobility may have become more obvious afterwards. The first thing you need to do is to manage your gingivitis. While there are a number of health conditions that can make you more susceptible to gingivitis, it is possible to eliminate it and to keep it away. Gingivitis is the first and least severe stage of the gum disease known as periodontitis. It is simply inflammation of the gums around the teeth. Gingivitis does not result in bone loss and tooth mobility, but gingivitis does lead to periodontitis if it is not dealt with. You can reduce or eliminate your gingivitis by practicing excellent oral hygiene. When someone has an underlying condition that promotes gingivitis, like pregnancy and certain anti-siezure medications, that person must practice excellent oral hygiene. Not merely good oral hygiene, but excellent oral hygiene. The average healthy young person can get away with a lot when it comes to oral hygiene, but you cannot. While you may be scared about the uncertainty over what is happening to you rest assured that you can take control of the situation and control your own fate. Proper brushing twice daily with a good fluouride-containing toothpaste using a soft bristled toothbrush followed by proper flossing once daily before bed is a very powerful means for maintaining good oral health. Adding a good mouthrinse, like Listerine Antiseptic mouthrinse or Crest ProHealth mouthrinse, is recommended for you. Using a Waterpik Waterflosser with the mouthrinse in the reservoir is an excellent way to deliver the mouthrinse into difficult to clean areas and around dental work. If you have trouble manipulating a toothbrush to achieve proper brushing you should consider a good electric toothbrush, like the SoniCare. All of these oral hygiene products must be used properly so make sure you read all materials that come with them. You should also see your general dentist at least twice yearly and have the dental hygienist clean you teeth. The hygienist can advise you on techniques for best oral hygiene measures for your particular situation. Ask questions. You need the hygienist's feedback on how well you are cleaning your teeth. Don't accept "Oh, you're doing OK..." Get the details and ask the hygienist to teach you where you are not cleaning well and how to do a better job. Don't feel like a victim and that fate has dealt you a blow. Be a dental hero! Take charge of your mouth and take control of your future. Make sure you have a general dentist that you trust and that takes the time to discuss your situation with you. Teeth can become mobile for reasons other than from bone loss, like from a bite that is traumatic to a tooth, and a good dentist can diagnose the cause of the mobility and provide treatment to eliminate it or to prevent it from getting more mobile.

Now regarding your tooth that is about to fail, I recommend you see a periodontist (a gum specialist) for a consultation. Periodontist are specialists in treating gum disease and in perfomring various surgical procedures to regenerate the bone and gums around teeth. They also place dental implants for use in replacing lost or hopeless teeth. Oral & Maxillofacial surgeons also specialize in dental implants and other surgeries of the jaws and face. Read the entire article above and arm yourself with information before making any decisions and eliminate your fear! Don't wait, call your dentist for a referral to a periodontist now and schedule that consultation. Let me know how it goes, and good luck!

- Dr. Appleton

Cole12 on June 07, 2012:

Hello Dr. Appleton,

Recently, I was informed of a new experimental procedure for teeth replacement. Although I've only found minimal information about it, it seems very interesting. It's called "teeth seeding," in which it utilizes cultured teeth to replace missing teeth. I was wondering if you have heard about this and have any info on the topic.

Dr Appleton (author) from Baton Rouge, Louisiana on June 04, 2012:


It sounds like you have one of your adult front teeth that is impacted and thus hidden beneath the gum and bone. I would first consult with an orthodontist to see if the tooth can be forced to erupt. It is possible but you need an orthodontic specialist to decide if it is right for you. This would be ideal if it is possible because the final result would be all of your natural teeth. If the tooth is ankylosed, that is, fused to the surrounding bone, an oral & maxillofacial surgeon can remove the tooth and graft the area to prepare it to receive a dental implant. The surgeon may even be able to place the implant in the same procedure as removing the tooth. Start with the orthodontist. Work toward the implant if orthodontic eruption of the existing tooth is not possible. Avoid having your teeth cut down to receive a fixed bridge. Read the entire article above and arm yourself with information. Let me know how it goes, and good luck!

- Dr. Appleton

Dr Appleton (author) from Baton Rouge, Louisiana on June 04, 2012:


A pediatric dental specialist can best advise you regarding your young daughter. At this young age her teeth could very well align themselves fairly well as she grows. I'm not sure if she is old enough to do anything to preserve the space for the lost tooth or to straighten the teeth that remain. Her permanent teeth could be unaffected. Regardless of what I think, see a pediatric dental specialist. He or she will provide appropriate treatment and take care of her as she grows. He or she will provide the right treatment at the right time to ensure your daughter's adult teeth are healthy and she will have a beautiful smile. Let me know how it goes, and good luck!

- Dr. Appleton

Dr Appleton (author) from Baton Rouge, Louisiana on June 04, 2012:

I'm not sure I understand your situation. Is tooth #18 an abutment tooth supporting a fixed bridge? Is the tooth #18 broken down and the roots are beneath a removable partial denture? Or is it unerupted and hidden beneath the gums under a removable partial denture? I'm not sure what your mean by the bone holding the bridge being small. Does tooth #18 have periodontal disease (gum disease) and that is why the bone is poor? I can't advise you regarding tooth #18 without clearer information. First, are your bridges fixed (that is cemented, bonded, or glued to teeth at either end) or are your bridges removable (removable partial dentures made of acrylic plastic and sometimes with a metal framework)? The wisdom teeth should almost always be removed to prevent numerous potential problems. The wisdom teeth usually do not need to be replaced. The best thing you can do is read the entire article above and arm yourself with information. Depending upon the particulars of your situation, missing teeth can almost always be replaced by at least one of the techniques mentioned in my article. You don't have to go without teeth. The younger you are, the more important it is to take care of your teeth and to replace missing teeth properly. Your existing dental work can last a long time. It may need a little attention and maintenance. Keep your teeth and your dental work clean. Follow your dentist's recommendations meticulously. Make sure you have a dentist that you trust and that you feel actually cares about your oral health. Please post another comment to clarify your situation and I'll try to advise you. Let me know how it goes, and good luck!

- Dr. Appleton

Dr Appleton (author) from Baton Rouge, Louisiana on June 04, 2012:


Take the time to read the entire article above. The more information you have the better you can make decisions. If there is no money to pay for a dental implant, you should at least have some simple device made to prevent your teeth from shifting. You could have an interim RPD (the "flipper") made or a simple orthodontic retainer made that you where while sleeping. I'm sure a dentist could make you a simple retainer for less than $100. This very simple solution can prevent much more severe problems in the future and leave your options open for more definitive treatment later. Let me know how it goes, and good luck!

- Dr. Appleton

Crystal on May 29, 2012:


I am 24 and have had two tooth extractions already. My first was my second molar on he left side of my mouth and the second was my first biscuspid on the right. I lost both of these to severe decay. They originaaly had a partial hole and the cavity had already reached the nerves so there was nothing else that could be done besides extraction or root canal. I do not have insurance and couldn't afford root canal so I opted for getting them removed. Right now, I am on the verge of getting my adjacent biscupsid removed for the same problems. I guess what I'm asking is would the "flipper" be the better option for me to get both my biscupsids replaced? And do you know any average costs for them?

Thank you so much for any of your help.

William on May 28, 2012:

Dear Doctor,

I am 36yrs old and I have to have UL2 and UR2 taken out as they are only being held by soft tissue at the moment. There is no bone behind those two teeth and so two dental implants is not possible, (not sure if this is correct). I was wondering whether there could be a fixed bridge for the loss of these teeth? i read from your article above that it needs three teeth for a fixed bridge, advisable treatment for the loss of these two teeth?

Kay on May 22, 2012:

I am posting in order to get a bit more info than from my dentist and to confirm some of what he said, so basically a second opinion.

I am 59 yrs old, female. My eye tooth top is dead. I really hate to involve two more teeth in a bridge that likely will fail if there is a 75% failure rate in 7 years. I have read that there is now evidence of troubles caused my using titanium in the implants. I have been told a regular partial will work except that my other teeth are so close together that I will need to have other teeth dentin ground down to let the clasps go between. A flipper is the other possibility, but I am told it is nearly as expensive as the bridge and it sounds like it might make eating more difficult and I was told that it will in all likelihood not be as good at preventing bone loss which brings up the other question.

You mention using things to keep down bone loss before an implant. Could you explain that a bit more? I really do want to go with the most conservative method that will solve my case. Conservative as in safe, not necessarily in finances. My other teeth all got a grade of A+ from my dentist. Only this one died, mostly likely from a car accident years ago. Thanks.

Ambreen on May 20, 2012:


A few years ago I had 4 wisdom teeth removed. For the past 2 yrs 2 of my top back teeth have been wiggly because there is no longer another tooth on the other side. One is about to come out now. My question is how can I replace the tooth about about to fall. I need molars to chew. Please help! I'm only 26 & have gingivitis in part due to an underlying condition. I am so scared!

Dr Appleton (author) from Baton Rouge, Louisiana on May 20, 2012:

Alb Emmanuel,

Please read the entire article above. It will explain in detail each of your options. If the area is causing you pain, you should have a dentist look at it. Usually the best option is to replace the tooth with a dental implant. Make sure you see a dentist who is knowledgeable in implant dentistry and is someone you have confidence in and who takes the time to discuss your treatment, your options, as well as the costs. It's hard for me to estimate the cost of implant dentistry as it varies greatly depending upon where you are in the world. Here in Louisiana the placement of a single dental implant typically costs $1,800 and the crown that is attached to the implant typically costs from $1,500 to $2,600. So the best thing to do is to get an examination and ask for the dentist to quote you a fee. This will arm you with information so you can make the best decision. Let me know how it goes, and good luck!

- Dr. Appleton

Dr Appleton (author) from Baton Rouge, Louisiana on May 20, 2012:


Avulsion is defined as trauma resulting in the tooth being completely displaced out of its socket. The sooner the avulsed tooth is placed back into the socket the better it's chances, among other factors. Since you stored your tooth in ordinary water instead of physiologic media there is no scientific data to determine your chances of various possible outcomes. You did the right thing in having root canal treatment performed on the tooth, although it is usually recommended to do this 7 - 10 days after the tooth is replanted. You also had the right treatment in splinting the tooth to the adjacent teeth. Both teeth 23 and 24 should be splinted to the adjacent sound teeth. The tooth should remain splinted for four weeks and not longer. You should have the teeth 23 and 24 examined clinically and radiographically once the splinting is removed (at 4 weeks post-replantation), then at 8 weeks, 6 months, 1 year, and every year for the next 5 years.

So what do you have to look forward to? It's possible the tooth can survive just fine for the rest of your life. It's also possible the tooth will suffer root resorption. This is where the root of the tooth gets dissolved away in a fashion similar to what happens to the roots of a baby tooth when it is ready to be exfoliated to make room for the adult tooth. This obviously means the tooth will eventually be lost (this process can take years). Your tooth could suffer ankylosis. This is where the root of the tooth fuses to the surrounding bone, obliterating the thin ligament that normally connects the surface of the root to the bony socket. If you are still growing (men ages under 21) and the tooth is ankylosed, then the surrounding teeth will erupt further but the affected tooth will not. This will leave the ankylosed tooth shorter that the others. If you are finished growing, then you may not even notice the tooth is affected. However, if the tooth ever needs to be extracted, ankylosis will make it more difficult to remove. Finally, the tooth and socket could get infected causing bone loss and loss of the tooth. Worrying does not help anything. Just keep your follow-up appointments with your dentist. Let your dentist know about It is a web site created by some of the finest researchers involved with the International Association of Dental Traumatology. Let me know how it goes, and good luck!

- Dr. Appleton

Divya on May 18, 2012:

Dear Dr Appleton,

I am 30 & recently had my milk tooth pulled out (it had a cavity & had broken..) (position similar to the missing tooth in the picture - but on the right side)

My dentist suggested the bridge or partial denture as he noticed in the x ray that the permanent tooth is there inside & the implant would not have room / could harm the permanent tooth inside..

- I would like to know if there is any way that the permanent tooth can be induced to grow out? (at my age)

- any other permanent method of implant without affecting any of my natural teeth (is implant still possible? not bridge)

Looking forward to your reply



Kelly Spalt on May 17, 2012:

My 3 year old daughter had to have her front tooth pulled when she was 18 months old after she cracked it on the tile floor. Now I noticed that the tooth next to the other front tooth is growing out of position and behind the remaining front tooth. in essence, when she smiles it appears that she is missing 2 teeth. We have an appointment to see the dentist. What can be done? Will any of this affect the positioning of her permeant teeth? Any input would be helpful. Thanks

Miriam on May 15, 2012:

Hi. I recently went to the oral surgeon to have my wisdom tooth #17 removed. Looking at the xray, he suggested i take out #17 and #18 because number 18 is under a bridge and the bone holding the bridge is small he said and will cause the bridge to move and it can get infected and if i have no more bone then it becomes a bigger problem, so he suggest I extract both 17 and 18 and get two implants. I would like to know if this is the best option for me and how much this can cost me, also i have two other bridges on the upper right and left hand corner. Will these last me for long or will I need implants there too?

and lastlt, if i extract the wisdom tooth and the one adjacent to it, can they fill that empty space with something instead of having no teeth? I am only 27

Thank you in advance

Rose on May 14, 2012:

I had a root canal on tooth #30. Sadly, the filling cracked and then fell out completely. The tooth was cracked and lost to decay. I am having it pulled in a couple of days. I think my best option is to just live without the tooth. (There's not much money for anything else anyway and it's not visible when I smile.) I'd like another opinion though. Any thoughts?

Alb Emmanuel on May 13, 2012:

I am now 21 years old, I lost one front tooth, (molar). The tooth affected broke into two 7 years ago, the other part is still in my jaw, I've been feeling pains around the surrounding gum a periodically. I am thinking of replacing it, please what's the best option and how much will it cost,


Justin on May 12, 2012:

In regards to my previous post. I looked it up and it's avulsed tooth 23 and loose 24


Justin on May 12, 2012:

I had a traumatic dental injury the other day while playing hockey. A stick came across my face slicing my chin and avulsing my lower tooth. Number 9 I believe and 8 was loose. I had the tooth sitting in water and after about 30-35 min got ahold of a dentist and was told to put the tooth back in the whole. I did this immediately and then about 30 min later was in the dr office getting the teeth splinted. A couple days later I talked to a friend who is a dentist and he said I should start a root canal treatment and start antibiotics. So I did this, now I am supposed to wait 2-3 weeks for evaluation. My question and concern is this: what are the realistic chances of my tooth/teeth surviving? My gum also had a laceration where the tooth came out so right now the tooth that was out the gum is lower then normal. I have been stressed out about this all week.

I know it's a wait and see if the tooth reattached to the gum or not but how many cases have been successful in this type of situation.



Dr Appleton (author) from Baton Rouge, Louisiana on May 10, 2012:

Alb Emmanuel,

I'll need a little more informationto answer your question. How old are you? Which tooth or teeth did you lose? How long ago did you lose it/them?

- Dr. Appleton

Alb Emmanuel on May 10, 2012:

I lost my when i was 7 years ago. Since then it has not been replaced, please what do you advise me to do in this case.

Dr Appleton (author) from Baton Rouge, Louisiana on May 09, 2012:


You are welcome! Your situation is truly unusual And thanks for the kind words!

- Dr. Appleton

James on May 09, 2012:

Hi Doc!

i just wanted to thank you for your extensive answer. It is such a nice thing you are doing here, taking your valuable time and answering people's questions here. I appreciate it and want you to know that your answers are helpful. My dentist talked about a similar course of action like you wrote. He doesn't want to start an intrusive action to bring out the second molar, he said, lets keep an eye on it, keep it very clean, it may get infected again now and then, but may also turn out good without any external action. but i still cant get my head around it that i dont have my second molars come out till now. on the left side its not even visible, the row ends at my number 6 the first molar. and in the full mouth x-ray we saw i dont have my lower wisdom teeth only the upper ones. but they dont present any problems right now. well thank you again for your time, and i wish you successful treatments!

Dr Appleton (author) from Baton Rouge, Louisiana on May 08, 2012:

Shane K,

First I recommend you begin by making sure you have excellent oral hygiene. That is, make sure you brush your teeth with a good fluoridated toothpaste twice each day, floss your teeth properly after brushing before bedtime, and rinse with a good antiseptic mouth-rinse, such as Listerine. Follow the instructions on the mouth-rinse label. You should be able to get good oral hygiene instructions from any of the major toothpaste manufacturers, like Crest and Colgate on the internet. If the NHS cannot provide you with the service your need then your only other solution is a private dentist. The right private dentist will earn your confidence and quell your fears of dental treatment. He or she will take the time to present a few different treatment options to you and explain them thoroughly. They will use anesthetic techniques that are painless and maintain your comfort throughout your treatment. Unfortunately they cannot do this for free. I am in Louisiana and I am not that familiar with the NHS or health care in general in the United Kingdom. There is a prosthodontist in London who received his specialty training at the same time I did. His name is Dr. Myles Dakin. I have not spoken with him in years and I do not have his contact information but surely he can be found in the telephone directory. His practice may be too far away from you or the cost may be prohibitive for you but perhaps he could refer you to someone in your area who could care for you. Another avenue would be through a charitable organization, like a church. Many churches here, including the Catholic Church, offer dental clinics or have members who are sympathetic and offer their services for free or at a discount or permit small monthly payments, etc. If you are fortunate to find a dentist who will work with you, make sure you are an ideal patient. That is, you arrive early for your appointments, you never fail to keep an appointment, and you follow the dentist's recommendations faithfully. We dentists enjoy helping people and it is particularly rewarding when the patient is a "good patient." Let me know how it goes, and good luck!

- Dr. Appleton

Dr Appleton (author) from Baton Rouge, Louisiana on May 08, 2012:


The number 7 is the second molar. The wisdom tooth being the third, or last, molar. The second molar usually erupts through the gums and into the mouth at the age of 12 years. It is not normal for the second molar to erupt at age 30. It is, however, not that unusual for people to be born without one or more of their wisdom teeth. I can only guess that perhaps your second molar was impacted and something about your mouth has changed to permit it to erupt. Another possibility is that the second molar is impacted and you have suffered some gum and/or bone loss around the first molar that has left the impacted second molar closer to the surface. When a tooth just breaks through the gums it creates an opening that connect your mouth to the space within the gums that surrounds the crown of the tooth. This space around the partially erupted crown of a tooth can get infected and become red, swollen, and painful. This impacted tooth may erupt into its proper position and all will be well. Just keep the area clean and well-irrigated with a good mouthwash, like Listerine. It is also quite likely that the tooth will never erupt fully and will be a recurring painful problem for you. I would get a consultation with an orthodontist to see if he can expose part of the second molar and then use braces to pull it up and into place. If he does not feel this is possible then give the tooth as much time as you can stand. If it does not erupt and you keep getting infections then see an oral surgeon and have the tooth extracted. I cannot give you your best advice over the internet. You need to see a dentist you trust and ask a lot of questions. I'd need to see a radiograph of the area to better diagnose you problem. Only your dentist can make an accurate diagnosis. Talk to him or her about your options. Let me know how it goes, and good luck!

- Dr. Appleton

Dr Appleton (author) from Baton Rouge, Louisiana on May 08, 2012:


The short answer is "yes". Just make sure the surgeon who places your implant also gives you detailed information regarding the implant. Specifically you will want the following data:

- Implant surgeon's name, address, and phone number

- Tooth number (the location where the implant was placed)

- Date implant was surgically placed

- Implant manufacturer, implant model, implant diameter, implant length

- Implant lot number

- Implant manufacturer contact information

This should be sufficient information for any dentist experienced in implant dentistry to make a crown that attaches to the implant. Many implant surgeons will give you the implant components necessary for fabrication of the implant crown that you can then give to the dentist who will make the implant crown. Both aspects of implant dentistry, the surgical placement of the implant and the creation of the crown that will be placed onto the implant are equally important in the success of the treatment. The exact angle of the implant, the depth it is placed, its rotational orientation, all details can effect the final outcome that is the implant crown. Optimal outcomes in implant dentistry usually come from an experienced team who plan your case together and who communicate well with one another. So I have to ask, why are you planning to have your implant placed in one country and the implant crown placed in another? If it is circumstances beyond your control then remember to get the implant details. If possible, select the dentist who will be making the crown and ask him to communicate with the implant surgeon so they will be working together to effect the best possible result. If you are considering having your work done in two different places to save money, then be very careful. A crown placed on a dental implant is very different that a crown placed on a natural tooth. Remember, in dentistry, you usually get what you pay for. Just make sure you are working with dental professionals that you trust and with whom you are comfortable. Print this comment out and read it a couple of times. Read the entire article above. If your dental treatment is particularly complex, consider getting a consultation with a prosthodontist. We specialize in solving complex dental problems and making beautiful crowns. We also specialize in working closely with other dental professionals to provide optimal solutions for patients. Let me know how it goes, and good luck!

- Dr. Richard

Dr Appleton (author) from Baton Rouge, Louisiana on May 08, 2012:


So as I understand it you just had your upper right first molar extracted Tuesday. The first molars are very important. You are awfully young to have lost such an important tooth. It is very unlikely that your second and third molars will not move nicely into place. In fact they will almost always just tilt forward like trees falling in the woods. Thus leaving a problem with deep bunched up gum tissue in front of them and probably causing a bite problem as the back side stick up to interfere with your bite. It is not too early to treat the area. We used to wait months for the bony socket to fully heal and remodel before proceeding with treatment. Nowadays we prefer to proceed immediately. Find a good oral surgeon and speak with him or her about grafting the extraction socket immediately and possibly even placing a dental implant immediately. Eighty percent of bone loss after extraction occurs within the first 8 weeks. If you can't get the implant right away due to cost, then at least consider the bone grafting procedure, also known as socket preservation. See if the surgeon can use a bone graft that is resistant to resorption so you can buy some time until you can afford an implant. Regardless of what you do, seriously consider getting an interim removable partial denture, the "flipper" made or some other device like an orthodontic retainer that will preserve the space and keep your other molars from drifting and tilting out of place. Read the entire article above so you can understand your options. Your best option is a dental implant and do it right away if you can. Different surgeons have different ideas regarding grafting and implants. Find someone who keeps up with the research or has recent training. They will tend to be most familiar with newer trends & techniques. Let me know how it goes, and good luck!

- Dr. Appleton

Dr Appleton (author) from Baton Rouge, Louisiana on May 08, 2012:


If you do not have a tooth behind the missing tooth that can be used to support a fixed bridge, it is not recommended to get a bridge. This kind of bridge is cantilevered into space to replace the missing tooth. While it is quite possible to make a cantilevered bridge, they have a very high rate of failure. The cantilever acts like a wrench and can exert a lot of force on the teeth to which it is connected. There are a few isolated instances where a cantilevered bridge can work well, but replacing a molar is not one of them. Your only two choices are a removable partial denture or a dental implant. Read the entire article above and arm yourself with information. Find a highly recommended dentist or a prosthodontist and ask lots of questions. Let me know how it goes, and good luck!

- Dr. Appleton

shane k on May 08, 2012:

hi i need help i have a lot of bad teeth that are going down in to the gum top and bottom i was hit in the face with a bat 4 years ago i want implants but have not got the money to pay for them i dont like going to the dentist as i have always had a fear of them i am 24 and it looks really bad i think nhs dentist are like butchers and i think its getting worse i wake up with blood in my mouth every day is there anywhere i can get this done without the cost or where is the cheapest place to have this done can you email me @ many thanks

James on May 08, 2012:

Hi Dr. Appleton,

i hope you could give some advice. Today i was at the dentist, since i had significant pain on my lower right jaw, and thought oh finally my wisdom tooth is coming out. - i am 30 btw- so then after the x-ray and stuff, the dentist gave the news, no its a not a wisdom tooth issue, he says the gums have a bit inflammation but no biggie, and he gave me some antiseptic mouthwash, follow a week if doesn't get better come by again. then i asked but what is the thing that i can feel with my finger that is coming out of my gums? he smiles and says its your number 7!! i am like what! on the left side it is not even there nothing to see, and he sent down i dont have my wisdom teeth only the upper two. I just wanted to check with you, that my number 7 is coming out sooo late? is it normal?

thanks in advance doc

bitrex on May 07, 2012:

I would be very grateful if you could answer a perhaps unusual question for me. My dental situation is far too complicated to go into and would be irrelevant to everyone else.

What I've been wondering is if it's possible to have the surgical implantation procedure done separately from the crown. "Separately" here meaning in some other country. Basically, can one have the surgery done here and the making it pretty done elsewhere?

Jim on May 07, 2012:

hi doctor,

i have 2nd molar on my right side and all of my wisdom teeth are taken out...could i get a bridge on the molar without another tooth to the right of it?

Lisa on May 05, 2012:

Dear Dr Appleton,

I had to have my UR6 molar taken out on tuesday, I had it root treated about 10 years ago and it had subsequently fractured. Because my mouth is small, the gap is not very visible. I would just like to know what my best option would be in your opinion. My UR8 wisdom tooth hasn't erupted yet, is it possible for my UR7 and UR8 teeth to move in and close the gap so I won't have to do anything? Or will this have complications on my other teeth?

As Im only 22 I don't want to get a denture and as my adjacent teeth are healthy I don't want a bridge either.

The dentist I spoke to said I would have to wait nearly 6 months for my bone to repair before I think about getting an implant or doing any kind of restoration to the gap. Is this true? Or should I be doing something asap before my gum heals?

Thanks for you help!

Dr Appleton (author) from Baton Rouge, Louisiana on April 27, 2012:


Yes, you should still be able to have orthodontictreatment (braces). Get a consultation with an orthodontist righ away. He or she can advise you if there are better alternativesfor closing your spaces between your teeth. They will advise you whether your problem can be solved with orthodontictreatment alone or if some restorative dentistry will need to be performed along with or after your orthodontictreatment. If you will not be seeing an orthodontist soon the see your dentist about maintainingthe space for your lost molar. Otherwise you will most likely suffer from tilting and drifting of the teeth on that side of your mouth. This could interfere or prolong your desired orthodontictreatment later on. Read the entire article above and make sure you understand the part about teeth drifting and tilting into open spaces. Don't wait. See an orthodontist now. Let me know how it goes, and good luck!

- Dr. Appleton

pauline on April 26, 2012:

i have lost all my back teeth on the bottom and one near front on top and i am very depressed about this.

Khadija on April 24, 2012:

Hello Dr. Appleton,

I am 21 and I have lost my molar tooth which is the 2nd one after the wisdom tooth. In my case I have a little spaces between few of my front top and bottom teeth. I am not sure what I can do about the spacing since they mostly require braces. I am not worried about replacing my molar since it's far back and no one can actually see. My question is if will i still be able to got braces or invisalign if i want them to fix my spacing. What do you recommend is a better option?

Dr Appleton (author) from Baton Rouge, Louisiana on April 24, 2012:


It sounds like you lost your lower left first molar. (The wisdom tooth is also known as the third molar.) Don't worry. The loss of this tooth will not affect the outward appearance of your face. Read the entire article above. The second molar will likely tilt and drift forward into the space of your recently extracted first molar. I would highly recommend having an implant placed within the next 8 weeks while all the bone is still present. If this is too expensive then see about having bone grafting done in the socket left by the extracted tooth. Some materials, like a xenograft

JoeyToronto on April 24, 2012:

I had to remove my molar #36 tooth as dentists call it because at first I did a root canal but then the dentist noticed it was fractured. So I had it removed just yesterday by a dental surgeon because I have long roots and now I have a space between the last tooth and the one before #36 which is the 3rd tooth after the Wisdom tooth. I don't have wisdom teeth, they were removed when I was a kid. My question is, would the space affect my appearance as far as sunken anything or would it cause shifting of the other teeth? Should I get the expensive tooth implant? Is it okay to leave it without the tooth? THank you.

Dr Appleton (author) from Baton Rouge, Louisiana on April 24, 2012:


My apologies, but I can only respond to comments in English. If someone will translate for you I'll be happy to reply!

- Dr. Appleton

Sonia gandhi on April 22, 2012:

Rey lanja kodaka emi ardham avuta ledu ra

Dr Appleton (author) from Baton Rouge, Louisiana on March 22, 2012:


There are a number of different classes of antibiotics and allergy to all of them would be unusual. The safe thing to do would be to see your physician and get tested to see if you are truly allergic to penicillin and clindamycin or if your rash was a result of something else. Regardless of the dental implant issue, it is important to know if you are allergic to any antibiotics and it is important to know which antibiotics are safe for you. It would be prudent to get this information about yourself as soon as you can so see your physician. You should replace your tooth #27 as soon as reasonably possible after you have resolved your antibiotics issue. This tooth is an important part of the dental arch and helps to keep your bite correct. Replacing this tooth will help prevent your other teeth from moving. Replacing this tooth with a dental implant will preserve the bone that used to surround the root of the tooth that was removed. Read the entire article above. See your physician about your reaction to antibiotics. Get the dental implant. It will help take the stress of the surrounding teeth and this is good for you since your have short roots. Let me know how it goes, and good luck!

-Dr. Appleton

Dr Appleton (author) from Baton Rouge, Louisiana on March 18, 2012:

I received the following email a couple of days ago from Cindy. I thought everyone could benefit from her question and the answer that follows.

"Dear Dr. Appleton,

I stumbled upon your blog after learning that I need to have my lower second molar on the right side removed due to decay and infection -- yes I have learned my lesson! I also need to have both upper and lower wisdom teeth removed on that side. Now, I have had 4 of my premolars (I think) removed for braces when I was younger -- two upper and two lower, so I will be left with just one premolar and one chewing first molar on my right side after the infected second has been removed.

Now, I am still in grad school (even tho I'm 32) so I can't afford an implant yet, and I have read different contrasting opinions regarding whether a second molar needs to be replaced. The thing that worries me is that since I don't have all my premolars, how would it affect my chewing? I don't think it'll be noticeable as it's in the back and I have a small's just very upsetting. If you can give me any suggestion I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you so much! Best, Cindy"


Read the entire article above, especially the section regarding not replacing a tooth. You will probably not notice much loss of chewing ability. You will still have enough posterior teeth to chew fine. If after some time you feel you need or want your second molar back, then you can seek out an oral surgeon and have an implant placed. If you want to hedge your bets and keep the implant option more readily available, have socket preservation performed along with the extraction of the second molar. Then if you decide in the future you want the implant, the site will be ready to receive it. Don't stress out, just get the hopeless second molar out. Let me know how it goes, and good luck!

- Dr. Appleton

Dr Appleton (author) from Baton Rouge, Louisiana on March 09, 2012:


Losing all of your molars is a pretty serious situation. However the aftermath can be dealt with. We'll divide the aftermath into two categories, the immediate aftermath (the postoperative recovery period) and the long-term aftermath (or the permanent results of having lost the teeth). The postoperative recovery period can be minimized first by using a highly skilled oral & maxillofacial surgeon. He or she will remove the teeth in the most non-traumatic fashion and then close the wound in the most ideal manner possible to promote healing. Second, by following the surgeons postoperative instructions faithfully, including any medications he or she prescribes, you will shorten your recovery period and make it a much more comfortable experience. As for the long-term recovery, read my article above to get information about your tooth replacement options. The first molars, that is the ones closest to the front of your mouth, are the last teeth that show in your smile. The loss of your upper first molars will probably negatively impact your smile to some degree. Your options will be limited to removable partial dentures or dental implants. I would recommend you ask for socket preservation procedures and/or guided bone regeneration, at least in all four first molar sites. This will minimize the impact of the resulting socket left behind once the first molars are removed and reduce bone loss. This will also create ideal sites for the later placement of dental implants for replacing the first molars. Most people do not need to replace the second molars to achieve a beautiful smile and to be able to chew food properly, but the first molars are important. When people are dissatisfied with their teeth when they smile, they do tend to smile differently. It is not automatic or unconscious. They tend to consciously reduce how wide they smile. The is usually obvious to the onlooker and it usually gives the person the appearance of being less happy. This can eventually lead to the person actually being less happy. Regarding tooth #19 (the lower left first molar), root canal treated teeth can last a lifetime. Molars that have received root canal treatment must soon be restored with a full-coverage restoration, such as a crown. Root canal treated posterior teeth, like molars, are at a much higher risk of catastrophic fracture and thus need the protection of a crown or similar restoration. For molars, a root canal is not the end of treatment, the molar will need a core buildup to replace the tooth structure that was removed to gain access to the pulp chamber and to the canals in each root as well as to replace any tooth structure that is decayed or damaged. Then the tooth can receive a crown. Obviously saving a tooth is more involved that just getting a root canal. Get a consultation with an endodontist. They are specialists in performing root canal treatment. Ask questions. Find out what it will cost. Find out what the prognosis will be for the tooth if it has root canal treatment, core buildup, and a crown. Find out how much the core buildup will be and how much the crown will be. Some endodontists will perform the core buildup on the same visit as the root canal treatment. Endodontists generally do not do crowns. You will need your general dentist or a prosthodontist to restore the tooth with a crown. The endodontist will provide you with a prognosis, that is a generally idea of how long the tooth will remain successfully restores. He or she will assign one of the following prognoses (prognoses is plural for prognosis):Excellent, good, fair, guarded, and hopeless. If the prognosis for the tooth (after it is fully restored) is excellent or good then the root canal (along with the core buildup and crown) is the way to go. If the prognosis for your tooth #19 is less than good then have it extracted. If you cannot afford the root canal, the core buildup, and the crown all performed within a couple of weeks or so, then have it extracted. It will be a big waste of money if you pay for the root canal, put off restoring the tooth, then the tooth becomes hopelessly fractured. The amount of out-of-pocket money depends of course on whether you have dental insurance and how good that dental insurance is. If you get all of the other molars removed first then there should be no upper tooth that can contact the molar #19. This will obviously eliminate chewing forces on tooth #19 (at least until you replace the opposing molar) and greatly reduce the possibility of it fracturing. This scenario gives you the opportunity to restore #19 in a couple of phases. First you get the other molars removed, then you get the root canal done on #19 and your get the tooth immediately restored with a full-contour core buildup. This kind of core buildup doesn't just rebuild the center (or core) of the tooth. It also rebuilds the entire tooth so that the exterior of the tooth is back to normal size and shape. This will make the tooth comfortable and easy to clean. Now you can wait until you are ready to afford the crown. Keep in mind the possibility for supereruption so speak with your dentist about options. Even a simple retainer would work as long as your wear it every night. By the way, the procedure for inserting a dental implant is not painful at all. In fact, is is easier on the patient than the extraction of a tooth. Dental implants must be placed precisely and gently for them to integrate properly with the bone. In any case, make sure you are confident in the skills of your dentist and any dental specialists you enlist in your care. Only high quality dentistry has the potential to last a lifetime. Let me know how it goes, and good luck!

- Dr. Appleton

Dr Appleton (author) from Baton Rouge, Louisiana on March 08, 2012:


Yes your night guard will prevent your upper teeth from supererupting. You will find most orthodontists reluctant to try to move your remaining molar(s) forward to fill the space, even a little. It is very challenging to do. Get an orthodontic consult before doing anything else. Consider the interim removable partial denture. It is non-invasive and inexpensive. Or ask the orthodontist to make you a retainer and just wear it at night while wearing your night guard. These last two options can put off doing anything indefinitely. Just keep all of your removable appliances well-maintained. Bring everything with your to your semiannual check-ups and your dentist will check them out and adjust them as needed. Do not just let your teeth shift on their own. The result will be bad. The loss of the one tooth will not change your appearance. Don't panic. First see your orthodontist and arm yourself with information. Get a referral from someone you trust. Then get the hopeless tooth out before your get pregnant and have the retainer or partial denture put in place. Stress kills. Don't worry. It's just one tooth. Let me know how it goes, and good luck!

brena on March 08, 2012:

Thanks for your reply Dr! I should have probably added that I am strongly against implant surgery so that is not an option in my case. The options Im considering are leaving the space - but do you think I can survive many more years that way and what are the possible repercussions? How can I avoid them? Some people claim they have survived fine without a molar - maybe not the first. My only other option is orthodontics to close the space even halfway to prevent eruption of the top tooth - in the meantime I can were my night guard for my top teeth - would that stop eruption of upper molar for now? I feel like Im in a nightmare that I cant escape. Otherwise I am considering fixing the tooth and risking it, but im told this is a huge risk to take as I could suffer infection/pain/bone loss - potentially during pregnancy which I plan in near future - without long term success due to crack. What do you think? Could I leave the space and would it close over time. Which teeth would move towards the space - front, back, both or none? Will it change my appearance or cause tmj? or should i go for ortho asap after extracton? so worried sick.

christal on March 06, 2012:

I have a question I'm not sure if anyone can answer but it would be nice to have my fears put to rest. I am 23 and facing losing all 8 of my molars as well as possibly one more on the bottom right side just in front of it. I'v never had any teeth pulled so I am worried. How bad is the aftermath? I think you can see the top of the one tooth they want to pull when I smile. Will this affect my smile more then I am expecting? Or will I just smile differently because of it? Debating on getting a root canal on the nineth tooth if they consider it savable but I hear they don't usually last. I don't mind the idea of a screw in tooth but it sounds sooo painful! Looking for advice! Thanks!

Martha on March 05, 2012:

I notice some key words are missing from my previous posting. Here is the revised version.

I have my premolar #27 extracted last December. I was given antibotics - pencillin and clindamycin and both gave me horrible rash - morbilliform eruption. Even after I finished the course, the rash lingered on for some weeks. Though the rash is nowgone, my skin has become very sensitive and can break out easily.

I am worried that I may have to take antibotics again and have to go through that horrible horrible itch when I have my dental implant. My question is: should I move forward with the dental implant procedure to replace the lost tooth? If I do not replace my tooth, will there be any impact on my other tooth and jaw bones?

Please note I am of Chinese ethnicity and have short roots. Not sure if this information affect anything.

Please advise.

Martha on March 05, 2012:

I have my premolar #27 extracted last December. I was given antibotics - pencillin and clindamycin and both gave me horrible rash - morbilliform eruption. Even after I finished the course, the rash lingered on for some weeks. Even the rash is gone, my skin has become very sensitive and can break out easily.

I am worried that I may have to take antibotics again and have to go through that horrible horrible itch. My question is should I move forward with the dental to replace the lost tooth. If I do not replace my tooth, will there be any impact on my other tooth and jaw bones? Please advise.

Dr Appleton (author) from Baton Rouge, Louisiana on March 03, 2012:


The wisdom tooth behind your hopeless second molar will quite likely tip into the space that results from its loss. However, when any tooth moves into another tooth's space it is rare for it to position itself properly relative to the tooth in front of it. Short of recommending you go into your woodshed out back and knock out your own tooth, I would highly recommend seeing a dentist who is well recommended. Just ask for an examination and consultation. A good dentist should gather all the information he or she needs about your mouth and then present it to you and discuss your options. Thus you will be armed with a lot of good information and this is the only way to make good decisions. The information you receive will be well worth the fee for the examination and radiographs. You might find that the wisdom tooth may need to be extracted along with the hopeless second molar. You might also find that if you have a healthy first molar, you may not need the second molar or the wisdom tooth. Read the entire article above. If you are not satisfied with the first dentist you see, find another. Keep looking until you find a dentist you can trust and who spends the appropriate amount of time to provide you the information you need to care for yourself and to make good decisions. You health is worth paying for. Remember that preventive health care is by far the most effective and the least expensive treatment of all. Let me know how it goes, and good luck!

- Dr. Appleton

Dr Appleton (author) from Baton Rouge, Louisiana on March 03, 2012:


See my response to Cherjo, it looks like exactly the same situation as yours, same tooth number too. Read the entire article. Let me know how it goes, and good luck!

- Dr. Appleton

Dr Appleton (author) from Baton Rouge, Louisiana on March 03, 2012:


With all of your molars missing from the left side of your lower jaw, you only have two options for replacing them. Dental implants or a removable partial denture. Dental implants do not always require bone grafts. Bone grafting does not necessarily result in debilitating postoperative recovery. I would imaging it is less severe than the extractions were. I would also imaging the surgeon would have placed grafting material into your sockets as a bone preservation procedure. It is fairly standard practice. Your need to at least get the first molar replaced. Because it is such a large tooth and it would be the last tooth in line, it is often recommended to have two implants support the first molar or to maybe get three implants to support the first molar and second molar splinted together. This is very valuable treatment and having the military provide this service can save your $10,000 to $15,000. My father was an Army prosthodontist for 20 years. Definitely push for dental implants and implant crowns. You'll thank yourself in the long run. Let me know how it goes, and good luck!

- Dr Appleton

Dr Appleton (author) from Baton Rouge, Louisiana on March 03, 2012:


A crack within the walls or floor of the pulp chamber certainly does compromise a tooth severely. I agree with the endodontist about not spending the money to have root canal treatment and a crown made for a cracked tooth. This tooth will fail, it is just uncertain how long it will take. The best replacement option is the dental implant, especially for younger patients like yourself. Failure rates for properly placed dental implants that then have proper crowns placed on them are very low, approaching less than 5% failure. Before you have the 36 molar removed consult with a prosthodontist. That is what I am. See my profile for my credentials. A prosthodontist will guide you through every step of the way and will coordinate any treatment provided by any other specialists that may be needed. Bring you night guards in with you when you see him or her. Your prosthodontist will check all of your teeth, will make sure your bite is appropriate your your jaw joints, will make sure your teeth are protected properly from the effects of nighttime clenching and grinding, and will make sure your replacement tooth 36 is very well made and adjusted to be in harmony with your other teeth and your jaws, etc. He or she will provide you with options for a temporary replacement tooth if there is some waiting period before the molar implant can support a crown. Ideally, he or she would coordinate your treatment with an oral surgeon who would extract your remaining wisdom teeth, extract the cracked tooth 36, place an appropriate dental implant into the 36 molar site, graft bone around the implant to fill what remains of the socket, and return you the the prosthodontist. The prosthodontist will provide a temporary crown on your implant if appropriate or an interim RPD (the flipper) or possibly no temporary tooth if you want to save a little money. Since your hard (acrylic) night guard fits onto your lower teeth, it could be adjusted to serve as a retainer and it will prevent your lower teeth from shifting. You would still just wear the night guard at night or anytime while sleeping. I'm not sure why the opposing upper molar is aching. Your prosthodontist will make sure your night guard is properly adjusted as it will prevent the upper molar from drifting down (supereruption). The hard lower night guard should be preventing your lower teeth from moving. So begin right away by seeing a prosthodontist. Ask your general dentist for a referral. If he can't or won't, then ask one of your dental specialists for the name of a prosthodontist in your area. At your initial appointment carefully relay your dental history. Make sure you include the name and contact information of your general dentist, your orthodontist, and your endodontist, and any other dentist or specialist who has cared for you. Explain your concerns to the prosthodontist and let him or her know you are interested in comprehensive evaluation and care because it sounds like you may have other dental issues. You don't want to just have a hopeless tooth replaced, you want to make sure all of your teeth, your jaw joints, and your jaw muscles are all healthy and working in harmony. Wear your properly adjusted night guard every night and any time you are sleeping. Bring it in to every dental visit no matter what. Let me now how it goes, and good luck!

- Dr Appleton

Dr Appleton (author) from Baton Rouge, Louisiana on March 02, 2012:


You are right about the implant being your best option. The answer to your question about bone loss depends upon whether or not your had socket preservation performed once the tooth was extracted. This is where your dentist places some bone regeneration material into the socket and possibly places some sort of regenerative membrane over that. This will preserve the bone for a good 6 to 12 months. If you did not have socket preservation performed then 80% of the bone loss and remodeling occurs over the first two months. The bone will continue to shrink slowly over the years so the sooner you can get the implant the better. However, a good implant surgeon can perform guided bone regeneration and restore much of the bone loss. I do absolutely recommend you get something to stop the teeth from shifting. You could get the interim RPD (the flipper) which if made properly can serve as a retainer and give you a replacement tooth with which to smile. I would imagine it would be priced the same as a retainer. Get the interim RPD, your insurance will pay for 50% of it. It will buy you time while you wait to get the implant. Stay away from the bridge! Let me know how it goes, and good luck!

- Dr. Appleton

Dizzyt on March 01, 2012:

Hi there

My top right second molar is about to fall out due to my wisdom tooth coming in above and slightly to the side of it.when this comes out will the wisdom tooth take over this space?the wisdom tooth has already erupted 90% but is mostly above the second molar?i live in the uk so have to pay for all dental work (as nhs reduction of costs is minimal!) so i would like to properly evaluate the situation before having to save up loads of money to see an orthodontist that i might not need.

Im no longer in any pain from the tooth as it is almost completely out although is uncomfortable eating at the moment.hope u can be of help.

Many thanks

mcclaryk on February 28, 2012:

Hi, i have had to have both of my lower left molars extracted. ( the one in the very back and right next to it.) no wisdom teeth. What are my options ? I have read the whole article. But wasn't clear on what the options for me or the best" road " to take would be! Thanks for the advice. ( Not to upset anyone.. I live on a military instillation overseas so payment isn't an option. I just need to know what to push for and to stay away from. I am a mother of two small children and I don't think a bone graft is a good viable option for us, ( dads always deployed.) so help is sorta slim.

Dr Appleton (author) from Baton Rouge, Louisiana on February 26, 2012:


I've never seen such an interesting dental plan policy. So it sounds like you are missing your first and second molars on one side and the first and second molars on the other side plus one of the premolars. That's quite a deficit in posterior teeth (back teeth). I just can't imagine what rationale your dental insurance company can have to justify such a policy. Maybe they have provisions for you to receive an implant on the side that is missing the most teeth? Maybe they have figured out that it can cost them less to have you replace one necessary tooth instead of a removable partial denture. Without additional posterior support you ability to chew is going to be greatly compromised. You should ask you dentist to write a narrative to appeal your dental plan's decision. If the policy cannot be flexible then often times an alternative benefit is made available. The key is to not give up. Let me know how it goes, and good luck!

Dr. Appleton

Charity on February 26, 2012:

I'm 22 and I just got #12 tooth taken out. I try to avoid any eating on my left side. I want to get a fake tooth, but I don't know if I can afford it. I don't know the types of teeth to consider when looking a tooth replacement. I'm really stuck on what to do. Any help would be great?

Cherjo on February 26, 2012:

Hello, I had to have my #12 molar removed due to a fracture that went up to the root. It is the left molar behind my canine tooth. You can see it when I smile fully and I do want to do something about it. I have been getting prices on implants, etc. That does seem like the best route to go. I didn't realize that a partial had all the gear associated with it until I was reading your site. How long does it take for bone loss to occur? I had the tooth out about a month ago. If I do have to wait due to cost, do you recommend that I get a retainer to stop the teeth from shifting in the meantime? Do you have any other advice that you can give me? I know that my dental insurance does not cover any type of implants, or crowns that are attached to implants. It covers 50% of partials and bridges. I do not want to go the bridge route because I don't want to impact the canine which you will really see when I smile. Thanks for any guidance you can give me.

kimberly on February 26, 2012:

Hi, i have had to have both of my lower left molars extracted. ( the one in the very back and right next to it.) no wisdom teeth. What are my options ? I have read the whole article. But wasn't clear on what the options for me or the best" road " to take would be! Thanks for the advice. ( Not to upset anyone.. I live on a military instillation overseas so payment isn't an option. I just need to know what to push for and to stay away from. I am a mother of two small children and I don't think a bone graft is a good viable option for us, ( dads always deployed.) so help is sorta slim.

Dr Appleton (author) from Baton Rouge, Louisiana on February 23, 2012:


Allergy to local anesthetics is very rare. The only way to know for sure if you are allergic is to be tested. Seeing a physician who specializes in allergy is your best bet. He or she can either test you or assure you to your satisfaction that it is safe. Let me know how it goes, and good luck!

Dr. Appleton

Dr Appleton (author) from Baton Rouge, Louisiana on February 23, 2012:


The first thing you need to do is get your gum disease under control. Gum disease is known as periodontal disease. It is infection around the roots of the teeth in the gums and bone. If you have a hopeless tooth then it needs to be removed soon. How soon it needs to be removed depends on the specific situation. You can arrange to have a replacement tooth placed immediately after the hopeless tooth is removed. See the article above about the different means for replacing the tooth. However, in the presence of active periodontal disease it is probably best to start with an interim removable partial denture (a flipper) to serve temporarily while you treat the periodontal disease. Periodontists are dental specialists that treat periodontal disease. They will begin by performing a thorough examination of your entire mouth. Controlling periodontal disease begins with controlling plaque and bacteria by keeping your teeth very clean. The first phase of treatment will include detailed oral hygiene instruction. That means the periodontist or his/her dental hygienist will sit down and carefully teach you what you need to know to keep your teeth very clean. You will be evaluated over time on how well you are cleaning your teeth. Depending upon the severity of the periodontal disease the treatment can range from the application of topical medicines to periodontal surgery to eliminate the disease and correct any defects in the gums or bone. This is a slow process and can take months. Most patients who have successfully treated their periodontal disease will need to continue to see the periodontist regularly for maintenance visits. Once your periodontal disease is under control you can then get a consultation with an orthodontist. Having braces on your teeth will make your fastidious oral hygiene routine more challenging and if you fail to keep up with keeping your teeth very clean your periodontal disease can return and even cause the loss of additional teeth. Once your periodontal disease is under control and your orthodontic treatment is complete you can decide which method to use to replace your missing tooth and any other teeth that may be missing. The cost for having a flipper made varies from one part of the world to the other. However, in my practice the fee for a flipper ranges from $450 to $1200 depending on the complexity. Read the article above in full. Let me know how it goes, and good luck!

Dr. Appleton

Dr Appleton (author) from Baton Rouge, Louisiana on February 23, 2012:


You are very welcome! Thank you for the kind words!

Dr. Appleton

brena on February 22, 2012:

Sorry accidentally submitted without completion. I am 37 yo female and faced with losing bottom left first molar (tooth 36 in Australia) - terrified about repercussion as I have never had dental problems - can i live without this tooth? what risks exist? Endodontist discovered internal crack in the root chamber, advised tooth is compromised, max life of 2-5 years if complete treatment (RCT/crown) and suggested I save my money, extract and look at replacement down the track because I wish to get pregnant asap. does crack compromise rct/crown that much? What would you recommend? Which specialist should I see for what and when? I had braces at 17 and dont want to ruin my straight teeth. Since braces i had upper wisdoms removed - all other teeth remaining, including lower wisdoms. Top teeth are still good after wisdom teeth extracted. Lower teeth are quite crowded and have gone slightly crooked again - cant remember if wisdoms came out after braces or not - probably causing crowding/pressure? should i remove them also? I also clench/grind at night and have both soft and hard guards due to surface cracks on front teeth. What should I do and why is my tooth above the lower first molar aching now? moreseo when I wear the guard? Is it because the lower molar is ground down now and upper is missing contact/trying to move down and the night guard stops it - is this possible in such a short timeframe? im very stressed due to constant headaches discomfort and worry.

worried about implant risks and failure rates re: bottom first molar. please help, what should i do and in what order? i want to do the best thing for my age and situation. should i save this tooth or let it go? if so, how to replace, who to see? please let me know if you need more info.

brena on February 22, 2012:

please help

Ginger Flores on February 20, 2012:

Hello Dr. Appleton,

In Dec 2011 I was approved for upper partial and lower partial but my Oregon Dental Plan changed Feb 2012 that you had to have 6 or more teeth missing not counting 3rd Molars. I was re-approved for my upper partial but denied for the lower partial because I only have 5 teeth missing. So, my question is how can I properly chew with only 1 lower back tooth 7 front lower teeth?I need to appeal this and don't know how to impress on Capitol Dental that having the upper back and no lower back partial is going to affect my quality of eating? Can you help me say the right things to prove I need the lower partials as well? This is my first time ever having a dental health plan. Sincerely, Ginger Flores. (I have 45 days to appeal from the letter date of Feb 14, 2012)

john on February 19, 2012:

Mr Appleton, I need to have a dental implant put in but I am worried about sensitivity from injection of the pain killers. Is there any way the dentist can discern whether or not I have an allergy to the product before really using it?

Faz on February 17, 2012:

Hello doctor I have very bad teeth and gum disease and also need braces. My dentist said I have to take my bottom front tooth out, I feel very depressed about it. I would like to know how long would I have to wait before I can replace it and how much it will cost me because I am working part time with less hours and also what kind of treatment will they give me for the gum disease. Thank you

HopeAngeleyes on February 15, 2012:

Hello again Dr.Appleton.I finally had my upper second molar extracted today! I'm soo glad that it's over and done with. Now, i hope to recover quickly =) Thank God the bleeding stopped. I just hope i can brush my teeth tomorrow morning! I just want to thank you soo much for helping me make my final decision a little easier to decide. Your're awesome and definitely a friend for life! GOD bless you always! x x x

Dr Appleton (author) from Baton Rouge, Louisiana on February 14, 2012:


I'm not sure if you have a question. I've never seen a patient who has had a visible external facial change from having the wisdom teeth (the third molars) or the second molars removed. It's possible that after the extractions were completed that the subsequent swelling filled out your face a little. Now that the areas have healed the swelling will have gone down. You may have liked the fullness the swelling gave to your face, but now that it is gone you may be disappointed in your face's appearance. It is obvious that you are concerned. I recommended you see an oral & maxillofacial surgeon as soon as possible. They will evaluate your face and jaws and advise you on why your face looks the way that it does. They will let you know what your options are and they can answers your questions. Let me know how it goes, and good luck!

-Dr Appleton

nikki on February 14, 2012:

ive had my wisdom teeth out all four but ive got a big gap up the top an my face has sunk in i want the gap filled to fill my face out i hate the way i look now should never of taken top ones out

Dr Appleton (author) from Baton Rouge, Louisiana on February 05, 2012:


Thank you for such kind words! The short answer is yes your custom night guard can prevent movement of your lower second molar upwards into the space left by extracting the upper second molar. I'm glad you read the whole article. It contains a lot of useful information. Let me know how it goes, and good luck!

- Dr Appleton

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