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    Thread: Can I eat with a flipper?

    1. #1
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      Default Can I eat with a flipper?

      Hi

      I I have posted here before about my root-canalled front tooth, and I have finally decided to get it sorted.

      Just to recap, my upper left lateral incisor was root-canal treated about 5-6 years ago, and a large filling was placed. I am getting increasingly worried about it as I think 5-8 years is the normal lifespan for a white filling, so while it's doing well I worry constantly that it will fail and the tooth will break!

      I have finally discussed it with my dentist, who suggested a post crown. However, as the tooth is heavily restored she referred me to her colleague, who is an expert in cosmetic dentistry and implants. When I saw him he said that because the tooth is quite thin there would be a risk of the post ultimately fracturing the tooth (which is consistent with some of the things I have read on the internet, and was a major concern of mine.) He said that as it is not causing me any specific problems (other than the constant worry!) I could leave it and see how it goes, or have it extracted and an implant placed. I decided that the implant would be the best option, and I am going in on Monday to have a CT scan and occlusal analysis. I suspect that the extraction will be a few weeks later, and I will be getting a flipper while the implant heals.

      My plan was to avoid eating around others, as I gather that flippers can be difficult to eat with. I would like to be able to pop it out, eat, then put it back in, and hopefully no-one will be any wiser! However I have learned today that the work Christmas meal, which I had thought would be postponed until the New Year (when I will be able to avoid it), will be going ahead after all. I have no way of getting out of it, so my question is, can I eat with a flipper? I will be avoiding anything that I would need to bite down on, if I cut the food up into small parts will I have any problems eating? I have read some things that say you can eat with them, and others that say you can't.

      Thanks in advance.

      Matthew

    2. #2
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      Default Re: Can I eat with a flipper?

      Is a crown not an option before you go having the tooth extracted?
      "Focus on your goals, not the hurdles."
      -- Amanda Curtis Kane

    3. #3
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      Default Re: Can I eat with a flipper?

      Typically no, but it really depends on the thickness of the acrylic. You can also have a screw retained provisional crown placed (so there is no need for a flipper). It may or may not be appropriate for your case, but it may be something to talk to your dentist about.

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      Default Re: Can I eat with a flipper?

      Quote Originally Posted by RP View Post
      Is a crown not an option before you go having the tooth extracted?
      Unfortunately not, as it is very heavily restored. I was very sloppy with my dental care about 10 years ago, and this tooth was quite badly decayed so had a large filling. I didn't realise how large until 5 years later it came out! (I think it had been leaking for a while, which resulted in an infected nerve.) The only hope it would have for a crown is if a post were inserted, but the dentist was concerned that a post would wind up cracking the root. This was one of my fears to be honest, and if I am likely to lose the tooth anyway I would prefer to have it taken out at my convenience with some form of replacement ready to go straight in.

      If a crown had a good prognosis, I would definitely go for it - far cheaper and much less worry about flippers not fitting/falling out/breaking in the meantime!

    5. #5
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      Default Re: Can I eat with a flipper?

      Hi

      I have now been to the dentist, and it turns out that a flipper isn't ideal in my case. Apparently my bite is such that my lower front teeth meet my palate rather than the upper front teeth when I chew, so they would end up hitting the acrylic of the flipper and my back teeth wouldn't meet. He said that it would be possible to construct the flipper to take this into account, but it wouldn't be ideal.

      The dentist's suggestion is to use something like an invisalign retainer with a false tooth attached in place of the flipper, which should allow me to chew as he will cut off the part that normally covers the back teeth (though I still intend to remove it when eating at home to avoid risking damaging it and for hygeine reasons.) Has anyone here had a similar false tooth? Is there any special care needed with them, other than not biting down with the teeth that are covered by the retainer?

      Many thanks.

      Matthew

    6. #6
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      Default Re: Can I eat with a flipper?

      I had an emergency extraction of my front tooth about six months ago and my dentist made an invisalign flipper with my actual tooth glued into it ( filed off the root) so that I'd have something to temporarily wear until getting an actual flipper made. I found it very difficult to eat with the invisalign, but mine covered all of my back teeth. I would still think that even if your dentist cuts off the area which would cover your back teeth, it would be pretty difficult to eat with. The invisalign gets food stuck in it really easily and food will also stain the plastic, so I would avoid it. Mine also started to break down after about two months. They aren't meant to last very long. This could be in large part because I clench and grind my teeth at night, resulting in the invisalign to crack, so hopeful if you don't clench and grind, you'll have better luck than I did but I would not recommend eating with it. I know how it is, because it was very hard for me to go out in public and eat. Embarrassing, since I had to take the tray out to eat! I usually ate at home..all alone.
      It also became really annoying having all of my upper teeth covered with plastic all the time.

      There is no way you could get a true flipper? I now have one and my dentist told me I could eat with it and just to avoid eating hard foods and I so far have not had any problems. I can now go out and eat in public again without having to remove it. It's not really that hard to eat with once you're use to it. At first it was difficult and I felt like I was going to swallow and choke one the flipper itself and I had to eat slowly. I usually take it out if I am eating at home and I always have to pop it out after I've eaten to rinse it off since food does get stuck underneath it, but it isn't such a big deal as long as you rinse it off.

      I'm also hoping on getting an implant someday, but it will probably be a while for me. Luckily no one can tell I'm missing my front tooth. It looks totally real and the color match it perfect!

      Good luck!

    7. The Following User Says Thank You to Levijean For This Useful Post:

      mahiyu (23rd October 2011)

    8. #7
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      Default Re: Can I eat with a flipper?

      Thanks for the information. From what the dentist said a flipper wouldn't be ideal for me due to my bite (he said that it would be possible to design it to take into account the way my lower teeth meet my palate instead of the upper teeth, but it wouldn't work very well!)

      I am hoping not to eat too often with the tray in, but as I will have it over the Christmas period I will need to eat with other people at some point. My intention is to choose foods that I can easily cut into small pieces that don't need much chewing (and absolutely no biting with the teeth that are covered by the tray!) When I'm at home I plan on removing it for meals and at night, unless the dentist advises me otherwise. I don't think I grind my teeth so hopefully it will last the three months from extraction/implant to the crown being fitted, assuming all goes well.

      How easy did you find it to keep the tray clean? One of the things that worries me is that anything in the tray is going to be held against the teeth all day every day, so keeping the tray and the teeth clean will presumably be especially important.

    9. #8
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      Default Re: Can I eat with a flipper?

      Quote Originally Posted by mahiyu View Post
      Thanks for the information. From what the dentist said a flipper wouldn't be ideal for me due to my bite (he said that it would be possible to design it to take into account the way my lower teeth meet my palate instead of the upper teeth, but it wouldn't work very well!)

      I am hoping not to eat too often with the tray in, but as I will have it over the Christmas period I will need to eat with other people at some point. My intention is to choose foods that I can easily cut into small pieces that don't need much chewing (and absolutely no biting with the teeth that are covered by the tray!) When I'm at home I plan on removing it for meals and at night, unless the dentist advises me otherwise. I don't think I grind my teeth so hopefully it will last the three months from extraction/implant to the crown being fitted, assuming all goes well.

      How easy did you find it to keep the tray clean? One of the things that worries me is that anything in the tray is going to be held against the teeth all day every day, so keeping the tray and the teeth clean will presumably be especially important.

      You should be okay and sounds like you wont have a problem getting the invisalign to last for the three or so months that you'll be wearing it. I was advised to wear mine at night because my dentist didn't want my gum tissue to recede any further than it already had, but your dentist may recommend you remove yours at night since yours is a different situation.

      I wore the invisalign for just over three months before getting the more permanent flipper. Towards the end, it was very hard to get it to come clean, as it had accumulated a lot of calculus buildup. I think my mistake was that I was only cleaning it with mouth wash and toothpaste. I should have purchased a denture cleaner to use for soaking it in every few days. I'm pretty sure you can use something like efferdent for invisalign trays, but check with your dentist first.

      The main thing is to remove and rinse the invisalign tray each time after eating or drinking something. This will help prevent staining. Overall, It's actually not too hard to keep food out of it so long as you rinse it after eating. I had no problem with it during the majority of the day while I wasn't eating. I know that there were a few times when I ate with it in while I was in public and food got down into the tray pretty easily, so I always had to excuse myself and go use a restroom to rinse it out, but not a huge deal.

      After about three months, my tray had 3 or 4 tiny holes in the areas where I'd been grinding at night and quite a few cracks too. I really think this was mainly caused by all the grinding and pressure I put on my teeth while sleeping. Doesn't sound like you will have that problem. Good luck!

    10. #9
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      Default Re: Can I eat with a flipper?

      I think 5-8 years is the normal lifespan for a white filling, so while it's doing well I worry constantly that it will fail and the tooth will break!


      Sorry I have only just read this thread but if your tooth looks ok and is currently servicable, it seems weird to me to be going for an implant just because you (not the treating dentist) are paranoid the composite filling will fail.
      When it does fail which could be years down the line, is the time to consider more drastic options. No one really knows for sure how long composites nor implants for that matter will last. They haven't been around for long enough to know.

      Amalgam has been used for decades so it is clear it can be long-lasting if placed and maintained well - yet if you google the average longevity stats for USA it gives a very low figure.....you have to wonder why ($$$$) since people in the UK are sitting around in their seventies with amalgam fillings (uncrowned) placed in their teens (my Mum for instance).
      Maybe if your composite was done well, it will last another 20-30 years too, only time will tell. No need to enter the 'inevitable repair cycle' any more quickly than absolutely necessary: filling, re-do filling, root canal, crown, implant...denture.

      I suspect the advice you have been given is not what the dentist would do for their own family member. Unless your tooth looks awful and is totally undermining your confidence, I think you should consider keeping what you've got as long as you can.
      Even with an implant there is bone loss after placement over the years. So placing them early in life is not necessarily a low-risk option.
      It's the 21st Century.......dentistry can and should be painless but we patients come unstuck because all dentists are not created equal

    11. #10
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      Default Re: Can I eat with a flipper?

      Thanks Brit.

      I appreciate your comments, and to be honest I wouldn't even consider such drastic action for a tooth with a smaller filling. For example, the lateral incisor on the opposite side of my mouth has a small filling, and if it ever had a root canal treatment I would feel confident enough in the amount of tooth structure to expect it to be repairable even if the filling failed. I would also be less concerned about a back tooth, where even if it failed the gap wouldn't be obvious so I could live with it while I sorted an implant or other replacement.

      The filling on the tooth in question is very large. The RCT was required when the original filling on the tooth failed (I think it was leaking - I remember that it felt "funny" for a few weeks before failure) and I was shocked to see how much structure was missing! That filling had lasted for around 5 years. With the tooth further weakened by the RCT, I suspect that when the current filling goes the tooth will fail soon after. I would rather lose the tooth now, at a time of my choosing, than suddenly end up with a gap and nothing to fill it with. I should also add that the tooth regularly feels a bit strange (difficult to describe, but definitely not right) and at my last checkup my dentist said that there was some enamel fracture on the tooth.

      I think a lot of my worry is that when I first had my composite fillings done over 10 years ago I had a fairly bad time of it (out of 5 that were placed 4 had come out within months.) I have also had to have a composite filling that was done on a different tooth about a year after this RCT replaced as it had shrunk slightly and was starting to leak. As you can imagine, I don't have full confidence in composites! (Though to be fair I do have a couple that have lasted 9-10 years so far, touch wood!)

      For the last couple of years, this tooth has been a constant worry to me, but since deciding to have it extracted it has been like a weight has been lifted and every time I have worried about it I have known that it will be dealt with. My gut feeling, despite the doubts in my mind, is that it is the right thing to do.

      I would also like to add that the dentist has not pressured me into this (in case it is coming across that he did!) After he ruled out the crown as an option, he said that I could leave it be and look at it again if/when it started to give me real problems, or I could have it extracted and replaced. I chose the latter as I felt it would give me the best chance of peace of mind. (It's a shame he couldn't have given me a third option of going back in time and looking after my teeth properly so none of this would be an issue!)

      Regards

      Matthew

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