does larry bird have teeth

William M. Hang, DDS, MSD

Some folks are not dealt a full deck of teeth. In fact, missing an upper lateral incisor is not uncommon; Michael Jordan was one of those people. Oliver North and Larry Bird lack both of their upper lateral incisors. In both the lower and upper arches, the second bicuspid teeth are frequently absent. Orthodontic journals are replete with examples of how these gaps, which are typically 8–10 mm, broad, can be closed to spare the patient from needing an implant to replace the lost tooth. To be honest, I’m in awe of the enormous efforts made to close these spaces orthodontically in order to prevent implants.

I’ve worked in the orthodontic field since before implants were widely used. I can see why our field chose to fill in the gaps left by missing teeth rather than aggressively removing all of the enamel from the two teeth next to the gap in order to make room for a bridge. I acknowledge that it was nearly hard to make these bridges appear natural back then and that there was a good likelihood that the bridge would need to be replaced more than once in a lifetime. With implants being so popular these days and proficient dentists able to restore them so that they function flawlessly and look completely natural, I fail to see the paranoid response to lost teeth that demands valiant, enormous efforts to fill the gaps.

What I do observe is that many patients who had their spaces closed experience pain because their front teeth were extracted during the procedure. They are “saved” by implants, but their symptom pattern is irreversibly altered. A Michigan woman visited our office yesterday for a first examination. Her upper second bicuspid teeth were congenitally absent, and an orthodontist “saved” her from implants. Additionally, he pulled back her front teeth so little of them showed when she smiled. The lower jaw was pushed back by the retraction. Her face and neck muscles were mostly tender to the touch, as were her temporomandibular joints (TMJs). She had not experienced a migraine pattern before her orthodontic retraction.

We presented her with a patient who was almost exactly like the one we had just finished treating. We had restored the tooth spaces that were naturally missing, enhanced the appearance of the smile, and removed a pain pattern that was strikingly similar. The new patient from Michigan saw the similarity.

She chose to make numerous trips to California in order to have us reverse this retraction, even though we never guarantee the resolution of even a single symptom. She would have paid far more to have crowns and implants placed for her missing teeth rather than to reverse the retraction and restore the teeth. I believe it’s time to let go of orthodontic anxiety and accept that it is not worthwhile to close gaps left by missing teeth.

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Does any bird have teeth?

Photo by Joe via Birdshare. Birds do not have teeth, although they may have ridges on their bills that help them grip food. Birds swallow their food whole, and their gizzard (a muscular part of their stomach) grinds up the food so they can digest it.