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