LOS ANGELES — It could be an accident, sports injury, gum disease, or hundreds of other causes.
Each year millions of people lose a tooth or several teeth.
Getting a permanent replacement can take months or even years.
The Food and Drug Administration has approved the only immediate fix, giving people back their smiles in a matter of hours.
It's a life-changer for Chris Caputo spent the last few decades hiding his smile.
"For years there was a gap, and they were loose, and they became infected."
Dentists wanted to remove the teeth, do a bone graft, put in temporary teeth and then implants.
That process would take more than year.
"The minute those teeth are out, the socket, the gum, the bone that was there," explained dentist Sargon Lazarof, the inventor of the Ultratooth.
"It all collapses."
Dr. Lazarof invented a new immediate, fully functioning Ultratooth that works before any more damage can be done.
"Because once you take the tooth out, the ballgame changes."
Immediacy is a key.
"You take a tooth out, this gum shape is there," he said.
"You put the Ultratooth right into the same socket and then put a tooth on it. So, patient walks out, and the gum and bone doesn't know what's missing."
The design mimics the Eiffel Tower in shape.
It's screwed into the bone, expanding, similar to the action of a wall anchor, allowing for immediate normal use.
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Kelly Costa came to Dr. Lazarof as a last resort.
When Kelly lost her baby teeth, a bicuspid never grew in.
She tried an implant, but it kept falling out causing her bone to collapse.
"I kind of felt pretty desperate."
It took an hour to insert the Ultratooth.
She then passed the next test: biting into an apple.
She had no pain, no problem.
As for Chris, eating whatever he wants is just one of the benefits.
"I helped a woman get something off a shelf and she goes, 'Ah, you have such a nice smile'. I go, 'Wow, I've never heard that'."
Dr. Lazarof says the Ultratooth is stronger than natural teeth, will not decay and is not as susceptible to gum disease.
There is no need for patients to have any type of follow-up visits.
The tooth should last a lifetime.
The cost is comparable to a bridge.
The process does not require your bone to grow into the screw and become secure with time like its predecessors such as the traditional implants or dentures.
Instead, after being surgical placed, it is hand-screwed to fit the custom shape of each tooth for immediate securement.