There is a lot to consider when it comes to replacing a missing tooth with a dental implant. This type of tooth restoration is, by far, the most superior option when you’re ready. For many reasons, most dentists encourage getting an implant as soon as possible after losing a permanent tooth – but this recommendation is typically only for adults.
Installing implants before a child’s jaw and facial growth is complete can lead to severe complications. As a result, it’s recommended that most young children and teenagers wait to have dental implants placed, and here’s why.
Wait For a Higher Success Rate
The bone density in the lower third of your child’s face dictates how successful a dental implant will be. The jawbone of a young child or teen has yet to develop fully. For this reason, most dentists and oral surgeons advise against having an implant placed at a young age.
As a child’s face develops with age, many changes occur. A child’s entire jaw may curve upwards or downwards. The teeth are surrounded by ligaments, bone, and tissue, which all move together as this growth happens. If a dental implant was placed prematurely, the tooth could remain at one angle while the natural teeth continue to change position. Additionally, the post can recede into the gum as the face develops and shifts.
Dental Implant Patient Qualifications
A dental implant should only be placed in patients whose jaw has finished growing. If an implant were to be placed in a young patient, it may impede jaw growth and prevent other teeth from coming in naturally. Because dental implants are placed directly into the bone, they lack a functioning periodontal ligament, making them unable to move as natural teeth do.
The minimum age for dental implants are:
- At least 15 years old for females
- At least 17 years old for males
The recommended age is different for each gender because the bone growth in females is typically complete before bone growth in males. At this age, the jaw has likely reached a point where dental implants aren’t likely to affect future growth.
Why Dental Implants Don’t Work For Kids and Teens
Most people assume that the titanium or metal alloys in dental implants are why implants are not recommended for children; however, this is not the case. These materials are safe, sturdy, and will not cause harm to your mouth regardless of age. A child’s jaw is continuously developing as their body grows, meaning dental implants are not an option until the jaw growth has ceased.
Effective Alternatives To Implants
Not many children, pre-teens, and teens want to go about life with a missing tooth. There are many alternative options while they wait to have a dental implant a few years from now. Here are some of the options we recommend most:
If you are already thinking of getting your child braces, you can still move forward with your plans, even if your child is missing one or more teeth. An artificial tooth can be attached to an orthodontic wire to fill the gap left by the missing tooth while the braces correct crooked teeth and bite problems.
If your child lost a tooth by accident at a young age, it’s likely a baby tooth has been knocked out. A permanent tooth will grow in its place, but to ensure everything remains properly aligned until this happens, you can pursue a space maintainer. Removable and fixed space maintainers are available, depending on your child’s situation and which tooth has been lost prematurely.
Removable partial denture
A removable denture has one or more artificial teeth attached to it as needed. Wearing a partial denture hides the fact that your child is missing a tooth.
A fixed bridge requires the teeth adjacent to the gap to be ground down so a crown can be attached to support the bridge. A resin-bonded bridge doesn’t involve this prep work, so healthy adjacent teeth aren’t damaged. These options typically look and function better than a removable denture.
Finding The Best Solution For Your Teen’s Missing Tooth
When it comes to tooth replacement in children, there are several excellent alternatives to a dental implant. At Thomas Orthodontics, we can help determine a customized treatment plan for your child, so missing a tooth never affects their long-term smile. To learn more about braces and what alternatives we recommend for a missing permanent tooth, contact Thomas Orthodontics today.