My toddler took a nasty tumble and lost his two front teeth as a result. Now he’s got no teeth there until he gets old enough for the adult teeth to get in. I’m worried about shifting. Not only that, I don’t want other kids making fun of him when he starts school in a couple of years. I tried talking to his dentist about getting a dental flipper for him. He essentially said, “You’re kidding, right?” I wasn’t and was too embarrassed to ask any further. I looked online because I know they sell those do-it-yourself kits, but they all seem to be made for adults. Do you have any advice for me?
Dear Mary Ellen,
We are constantly worrying about our children, aren’t we? I wish your dentist would have picked up on that instead of blowing you off. Never be embarrassed about questions. You will naturally have them. If you had all the dental knowledge and information taught in dental school, you could treat your child on your own. It’s natural for you to not have information readily accessible to your dentist because of his training.
If you see this pattern of not addressing your questions with respect continue, it may be time to look for a different pediatric dentist for your son. Comfortable communication is a must when it comes to getting proper care for our children.
Dental Flipper for Toddlers
A dental flipper is not a good option for a toddler. This is why you are only seeing kits for adults. First, they’re removable. This automatically makes it a choking hazard, a risk you certainly don’t want to take. Not to mention, it’s more likely he’ll constantly remove it and lose it. I’m picturing you trying to vacuum under the couch only to find your son’s flipper covered in dust bunnies the moment your back is turned.
Second, the mechanics of the flipper require it to clamp onto his other teeth. That put unnecessary pressure on those teeth. Baby teeth don’t have the same depth of roots you get with your permanent teeth. This can cause other teeth to have problems. Additionally, his jaw is in constant growth. Even, if he was the perfect toddler, who just compliantly left a foreign object in his mouth because you told him to, you’d have to replace it constantly as his jaw shifts and grows.
The Good News
I have good news for you, though. His front spacing will be fine until his adult teeth come in. The shifting you mentioned is only a factor with back teeth. When they are lost prematurely, your son’s dentist would need to place a space maintainer there to keep his adult teeth from crowding, leading to orthodontics later in life.
As for the other children poking fun at his missing teeth. I don’t think that will be an issue. In early primary years, so many children are losing and gaining new teeth that no one really focuses on that. If anything, it will be a badge of honor to be the first one to see the tooth fairy.
This blog is brought to you by Huntsville Dentist Dr. Steve Murphree.