A dental flipper is the least expensive way to replace a missing tooth. Often it is used as a temporary tooth replacement while you wait for a dental bridge or for healing after a dental implant is placed.
A dental flipper is made out of acrylic. It is made by taking an impression of your mouth, and then a plaster cast is poured. The cast is sent to a laboratory with a prescription that includes the shade of the tooth. An acrylic tooth is selected that most closely matches the shade of your teeth, and a pink plate is molded to fit your palate (on the upper) or to fit just inside the tongue side of your teeth (on the lower).
For a little extra cost, wires with little ball ends can be placed to help secure the dental flipper in your mouth. Otherwise, it is secured by the pink acrylic snapping between your teeth.
A variation is the Valplast flipper, pictured at left. Valplast is more flexible than the traditional acrylic that a flipper is made of, and can be made translucent for enhanced esthetics in some situations.
While a dental flipper is meant to be temporary, some people wear them for years. They press somewhat on the gums and so are not very healthy for the gums. They also break easily, and it can be difficult to eat with them-they may not be strong enough to eat on and may have to be removed for meals.