Is A Flipper Tooth Worth It?

A flipper tooth is a type of placeholder restoration that’s used to replace a missing tooth (or teeth). Usually, it is considered a temporary solution until the patient can get a more durable and long-lasting tooth replacement.

While a flipper tooth may serve well to hide the gap left behind by a missing tooth, there are several problems with it which make it less desirable, especially for long-term wear. In this guide, you’ll learn more about how a flipper tooth works, what it can do for you as well as its disadvantages, cost and alternatives.

What Is A Flipper Tooth?

A flipper tooth is a type of partial denture that is usually used to replace one or two teeth (maybe more) either at the front or the back of the mouth. It might use acrylic resin or metal wire clasps to stay in place inside the mouth. However, it might also achieve the same through the friction created between the base of the flipper and the tissue inside the mouth.

different flipper tooth
Image credit: Picture by Authority Dental under CC 2.0 license

It is a removable restoration, so it won’t be fitted permanently inside your teeth. But your dentist will have it custom-prepared in a dental lab by taking an impression of your mouth. There are different scenarios in which it might be recommended, some of which are as follows:

  • You are unable to get implants or dental bridges (e.g. the jawbone of children might still be growing, making them unsuitable for dental implants).
  • You have had a tooth extraction and want to fill the space left behind.

Generally, people complain of their flipper teeth being uncomfortable. However, this is something you should inform your doctor about. And you should do the same if you’re experiencing pain while wearing them.

Can You Wear A Dental Flipper Permanently?

Ideally, a dental flipper is only considered a temporary tooth replacement. Therefore, it’s not meant to fill the gap left behind by your tooth permanently. Still, some people end up wearing them for a long time, especially because they can be cheaper or they might be trying to save for a more permanent restoration. If you are considering wearing dental flippers for a long time, you must talk to your dentist first as it may have a risk of causing gum recession, gum disease and tooth decay.

How Long Does A Flipper Tooth Last?

You might be given a flipper tooth to wear for a few months until you can get an implant after, for instance, a tooth extraction. It is made from acrylic resin and durability remains a concern with it, which is why you shouldn’t expect it to last for a very long time.

artificial tooth

Do Flippers Stop Teeth From Shifting?

It is said that flippers can stop the teeth from shifting. However, it is also noted that it cannot stop bone loss from occurring as the bone might not be strained enough, signalling that it is not in use anymore. This can end up causing bone loss in teeth, one of the symptoms of which is loose or moving teeth inside the mouth. Therefore, while flippers might temporarily help improve the aesthetics of your smile, you should consider discussing more long-term solutions with your dentist.

How Do You Eat With A Flipper Tooth?

With certain flippers, you might be advised against eating with them as there can be a risk of breakage. You might consider removing it while you’re eating, but you may also be suggested to eat from the other side of the mouth while you have it in.

Even if your dentist considers it okay for you to eat with your flipper tooth, they might ask you to avoid hard and chewy foods like ice, candies, nuts, crunchy fruits and raw vegetables. Again, people have complained about the difficulty of eating with flippers in place.

Another thing that you need to be careful about is foods that can stain your flipper tooth. Since it’s believed to stain, you might want to avoid foods that can discolour your teeth, such as tea, coffee, soy sauce, tomato juice, red wine, etc.

Is It Hard To Talk With A Flipper Tooth?

Talking with a flipper tooth might not exactly be easy. You might find it difficult to talk properly. It might be made more difficult by the more-than-normal salivation that you might experience. You might eventually adjust to it, but keep in mind that it is meant to be temporary, but you should inform your dentist about this problem.

Can You Brush A Flipper Tooth?

You can remove your flipper tooth while you’re brushing your teeth and clean the flipper tooth separately, as it will ensure a more thorough cleaning of the denture.


According to the Oral Health Foundation (OHF), to keep your dentures clean, you should brush and soak them in a “denture cleaning solution” every day.

For brushing, they advise against scrubbing too hard and using a toothpaste (they recommend a non-abrasive denture cleaner). You need to clean the underside of the flipper tooth as well, which is why it’s better to remove it.

What Are The Disadvantages Of A Dental Flipper?

There can be several disadvantages of dental flippers, some of which are as follows:

  • Inconvenience – A dental flipper can generally be quite inconvenient as it can cause difficulty in speech and eating. It might also get loose (although you can ask your dentist to adjust it), which can be especially problematic in social situations.
  • Lack of durability – You cannot bite food or hard objects with your flipper tooth. It is generally not considered durable and can break easily, which is why it’s thought to be best for short-term use.
  • Oral health issues – Seeing as how a dental flipper is believed to be a risk to gum and tooth health, you should be careful about wearing them. Additionally, you should follow your doctor’s advice on exactly when to wear a flipper after dental surgery so it doesn’t interfere with the healing.
  • Allergic reaction – You can also be allergic to the material from which a dental flipper is made, so make sure to discuss this possibility with your dentist in advance.
  • Poor aesthetics – While a flipper can effectively cover the space left behind by a missing tooth, the visibility of the clasps can mar the overall aesthetics.

For these reasons, a flipper tooth may not always considered the best solution and your dentist might even recommend other options to you.

How Much Can A Flipper Tooth Cost?

A flipper tooth is a partial denture, and dentures fall in the Band 3 course of treatment on the NHS, which is priced at £319.10. However, you may also be able to get a flipper tooth privately for around the same price. The cost can, although, vary, and it can depend on how experienced/qualified your practitioner is, where their clinic is located, the number of teeth in the partial denture and the material from which it is being made.

single tooth

What Are The Alternatives To Flipper Tooth?

There are several alternatives to a flipper tooth that you can consider, such as:

  • Dental bridge – In a traditional dental bridge, the missing tooth is replaced by a dental crown, which is supported by additional crowns on each side (fitted over shaven-down natural teeth). Bridges can last for 7-10 years and can also give quite satisfactory results in terms of aesthetics. There’s also a type of dental bridge called the Maryland dental bridge that is supported by metal wings cemented to the back of the teeth. It’s also considered a temporary solution, but it might give you better results than a flipper tooth.
  • Dental implant – A dental implant is another long-term dental restoration in which a titanium screw is used as a replacement for the missing tooth root. It can be fitted over with a crown or bridge (depending on how many teeth you’re missing) and can last for decades.


A dental flipper can be provisionally useful, especially as it can improve the overall aesthetics of the smile until you can seek a more long-term solution like bridges or implants. However, it’s important to keep its limitations in mind; it can cause several discomforts and can also feel awkward especially when you wear it the first time. Still, in certain cases, your dentist might consider it to be a suitable solution for you.

No matter where you decide to get dental treatment, it is very important that you find a qualified and board-certified dental practitioner who can thoroughly assess your problem and offer you the most effective treatment plan.

Reviewed and approved by Dr Izbel Aksit


Is a flipper tooth a good idea?

A flipper tooth can be a good way to hide the gap left behind by a missing tooth in the short term. However, due to issues with convenience (difficulty eating or talking), lack of durability, and risk of oral health issues, among other problems, it might not be a good idea to wear them for a long time.

Can you wear a flipper with no teeth?

Since a flipper tooth is usually supported by metal or acrylic clasps that go around nearby teeth for support, you might not be able to get a flipper if you have no teeth. However, it’s best to further talk to your dentist about this.

What is the difference between a flipper and a partial?

A flipper tooth is a type of partial denture. However, there are different types of partial dentures, such as flexible dentures, fixed partial dentures or partial dentures with a cast metal base.

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