A common question during braces consultation appointments is if braces can solve problems related to one or more missing teeth. When teeth are missing, adjacent teeth will often drift into the empty space, which leads to dental health issues down the road.
Orthodontic treatment can help to correct and prevent these issues from happening, in addition to correcting problems that have already happened as a result of missing teeth.
Missing Permanent Teeth in Children
For parents of older children or teenagers, a missing permanent tooth can be stressful and confusing. Because a child’s jaw continues to develop until closer to adulthood, treatment may not be as simple as replacing a lost permanent tooth. When children have a congenitally missing baby tooth, there generally will not be a permanent tooth developing in the gums underneath it either.
If a baby tooth is lost before it is ready to come out, other surrounding teeth can crowd into the vacant spot. This may not leave enough room for the adult tooth to emerge, causing crooked teeth or impaction of the tooth below the surface. If a baby tooth is lost prematurely, a space maintainer is often used to keep that area of the child’s mouth open until the permanent tooth begins to emerge naturally.
20% of Adults Are Missing One or More Teeth
You may be surprised to learn that up to 20% of adults have one or more missing teeth. The most common teeth to be missing are the second molars and the upper lateral incisors. Inheritable genetics cause this trait, and gum disease and tooth decay are the most common causes of non-hereditary tooth loss.
Closing the Gap With Braces
Children who are still losing their baby teeth, but have jaw issues or misaligned teeth are still candidates for braces. Misalignment can prevent permanent teeth from growing in properly, making braces a great option. It’s also entirely safe for a child to lose some teeth while they are undergoing orthodontic treatment. Your child’s orthodontist will evaluate these baby teeth at checkup appointments, and any brackets or bands connected to baby teeth will be removed so a tooth can fall out. Once a permanent tooth comes into place, the bracket will be replaced on the new tooth.
Braces are ideal for holding empty spaces where a missing tooth is located until the hole is filled. Missing teeth can lead to more significant issues down the road, so it’s ideal to have these teeth replaced for many reasons. While braces can’t shift teeth to close in a missing tooth gap, they can work to close small gaps between your child’s teeth. These types of gaps are especially common between the two front permanent teeth.
Other Solutions For Missing Teeth
There are a few options for replacing a missing tooth that your child’s dentist can discuss with you.
Dental Implants are considered the best way to replace missing teeth. Implants are the longest-lasting and most natural-feeling tooth replacement option. Dental implants aren’t recommended for children under the age of 16, so braces can help to hold an empty place for a future implant.
Dental Bridges are where a crown is placed on the teeth on either side of a gap. A false tooth is attached to both surrounding teeth and fills in the space where the missing tooth was. While a dental implant is a more preferred option for several reasons, a dental bridge is a quicker and more cost-effective option. Dental bridges generally need to be replaced every 5 to 7 years.
Orthodontic Treatment Can Improve Total Mouth Health
Orthodontic treatment can help improve overall mouth health thanks to properly aligning teeth. Your child’s teeth and gums will be healthier in the long run because they won’t have gaps that lead to trapped food, causing gum disease or bone loss from a misaligned bite.
You are never too old to have your teeth look great. Contact Thomas Orthodontics today to further discuss how braces can help solve potential problems caused by missing teeth.