If you are one of the lucky people who have already had to navigate the world of wisdom tooth extraction, you might know that not everyone is born with all four wisdom teeth. But did you know the second most common congenitally missing tooth is the maxillary lateral incisor?
The maxillary lateral incisor is the top tooth directly next to your front teeth on either side, and it is very common for people to be missing one, or both, or have small peg-shaped laterals. If you are missing your lateral incisor, there are different ways of replacing that tooth or closing the gap, and orthodontics can help with many of those techniques.
A Missing Lateral Incisor Could Cause Other Problems
If you were born without one or both of your lateral incisors, you may be thinking, “That’s just who I am, why change it?” While self-acceptance is important, it cannot prevent the cascading adverse effects of dental irregularities. Having your teeth in proper alignment is a necessary support for both oral and overall health.
Missing a lateral incisor, or any tooth, can lead to other problems down the road. Missing lateral incisors can cause:
Options to Replace a Missing Lateral Incisor
The good news is that a missing tooth is an easily remedied problem. If you are missing a lateral incisor or other tooth, then orthodontics can help. In the past, a dental bridge for missing lateral incisors was the most common replacement method, but that comes with its own drawbacks. Now, we have other methods for replacing missing lateral incisors or any other teeth.
|Methods for Replacing Missing Lateral Incisors
|What It Is
|Commonly made of titanium, an implant is placed into the jaw and allowed to integrate (fuse) to the bone.
Once healed, an abutment and crown are attached to replace the missing tooth.
|Long-term replacement with excellent aesthetic outcomes and low additional maintenance.
Possibility of implant failure.
|Using orthodontics, the patient’s canine tooth is moved over and shaped to resemble the missing lateral filling in the space.
|Permanent solution with low additional maintenance.
No need for foreign materials in your body.
|Depending on tooth morphology (size and shape of your tooth) substitution may not be aesthetically ideal or the best functional option.
|The adjacent teeth on either side of the missing lateral incisor are shaved down, and a bridge of three replacement crowns is bonded to those adjacent teeth, restoring their shape and filling in the space of the missing lateral.
|Less costly than implants.
Quick treatment option compared to orthodontics or implants.
|Require more meticulous home care to clean under the bridge.
May need replacing after an average of 10 years.
Requires the loss of healthy tooth structure from adjacent teeth.
Bone loss can occur under the missing tooth.
|Removable Partial Denture
|Typically made of plastic and metal, a framework holding the replacement tooth will snap securely to the adjacent teeth to hold the replacement tooth in place.
|More affordable than dental implants.
Good aesthetic matching options.
|Fragile – easy to damage when chewing, so you will need to remove it when eating.
Won’t stop bone from receding where the missing tooth is.
|False teeth are attached to removable devices (like retainers or clear aligners) to give the appearance of a tooth temporarily.
|Great for children or individuals undergoing orthodontic treatment who need time before a permanent replacement can be used.
|Not a permanent solution.
Can be broken or lost.
Your treatment plan to replace missing lateral incisors will be developed by an orthodontist and specialist dental professionals. Treatment plans are based on a number of things, including your current bite, your ideal bite, aesthetic goals, and functionality. In many cases, depending on how long you have been without a lateral incisor, you may need orthodontics to make space for your replacement option.
Ready To Replace Your Missing Lateral Incisor? Start With a Free Consultation
The first step in replacing your missing lateral incisor is to book an orthodontic treatment consultation to evaluate your occlusion and bone levels. The Beverly Hills Orthodontics team firmly believes that every individual deserves a smile they love and can be proud of. Everyone at BHO is dedicated to helping you achieve the smile of your dreams—including finding the right treatment option to replace your missing lateral incisor.
Come find out for yourself what personalized treatment and dedicated follow-up care can mean for your health and self-confidence.
NOTE: All blog content is intended to supplement—NOT REPLACE—the expertise of a healthcare professional and should not be construed in any way as medical advice. Consult a professional orthodontist directly, like the ones at BHO, to assess your individual needs and advise the best course of treatment.