So today I was watching Grown-up again and saw the tooth of Lenny's daughter fell and we can see she had no teeth. Similarly, I remembered a scene with a missing tooth in the Hangover part 1. So I thought, how do they do toothless shots? Are the actors really toothless and they wore prop teeth for the previous scenes? So I searched for the Hangover missing tooth scene and found an interesting interview with the actor Ed Helms:

The missing tooth, how did they do that?

Ed Helms: "When I was 15 I lost a tooth and had an implant put in. Cut to 20 years later, I'm doing this part and the script calls for my character to lose a tooth. We did some camera tests blacking it out, we made a prosthetic with a gap in it, but that made me look like a donkey, so I vetoed that right away. And then I just finally called my dentist and said, 'You know, I've had this implant for 20 years. What's it involve in taking it out?' And he said, 'It’s actually not that big a deal. We can do that.' So we took it out and I was toothless for three months, for the run of the movie."

But my question is, is it always possible to hire such an actor who has lost his/her tooth in the past? Each director/producer may not get that lucky. But there are a lot of movies where tooth picking or losing is shown. Like the girl in Grown Ups or the guy in The Tommyknockers (Reference). So what do they do then? How are they able to show a toothless mouth?


1 Answer 1


There are several ways to do this.

You would be surprised how many actors have teeth missing under those perfect veneers so, as in the case of Ed Helms, the filmmakers can just utilize those gaps.

Then there are varying degrees of concealment;

  • Black-out tooth paint - this is a quick solution for long shots, but has to be reapplied several times over the course of a shot,

  • Tooth wax - a black wax composite that is smeared over the tooth. This can also be eroded over time however,

  • Specially made black tooth caps - the benefit to these is that they do not require reapplication every hour,

  • Full denture sets - these sets, made just like regular dentures, fit over the actor's own teeth (making the bite radius smaller however) and can incorporate 'gummy' gaps,

  • CG - a bit extreme, but it can be used to more intimate shots. In some cases the actor will wear a 'green cap' in order to facilitate the compositing of a gap,

  • Mouth double - it is not uncommon for an actor to look at themselves in the mirror, cut to close up of mouth double with missing teeth, then back to actor reaction. Edited properly, this will sell the shot.

Other than the CG and full denture examples, I have utilized all of these techniques over the years.

  • 1
    Interesting! +1 for sharing your secret techniques! :D
    – Mistu4u
    Commented Jan 4, 2013 at 16:23
  • 7
    Nice summary. I'm missing a molar, maybe I should get an agent and become a mouth double ;)
    – Oliver_C
    Commented Jan 5, 2013 at 15:44
  • Before the widespread use of computer technology, is it possible that the tooth would be painted/rotoscoped out on the film in some cases? It would be laborious, but we've seen find do that for other things (the blue-on-blue eyes in Dune (1984), for example)
    – HorusKol
    Commented Jan 8, 2021 at 22:55

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .