You may think your child should get dental implant surgery if they fall and lose a tooth.
But unfortunately, this method of tooth replacement is not viable for young patients. Although any healthy adult may be a candidate for dental implants, children need an alternative method of tooth replacement.
Why Dental Implants Aren’t Right for Children
The reason kids can’t have dental implants has to do with jawbone development. Fusion with the bone, a process called osseointegration, is what makes dental implants permanent.
Before implants can be placed, the jaw must be fully grown; otherwise, serious complications can arise. If the jawbone is still growing, tooth implants can become crooked and prevent the natural teeth from erupting in their proper positions. Or, as jaw growth continues, the implants may become submerged compared to the natural teeth.
The bottom line is that children can’t get dental implants because their jawbones aren’t fully developed.
How Old Do Kids Have to Be for Dental Implant Surgery?
Every child is different, so the age at which implant surgery can take place isn’t set in stone.
To determine whether implant surgery is viable for your child, an oral surgeon relies on X-rays of the growth plates in the wrist. These plates become thinner and eventually disappear as growth continues. So if they’re gone, your child is old enough for dental implants.
Girls may be ready for implants as early as age 14 or 15. Jawbone growth finishes later in boys, so most young men must wait until at least age 17 before having implant surgery.
What if Your Child Isn’t Old Enough for Dental Implants?
If your child loses a tooth and isn’t old enough for dental implant surgery, you have a few options.
- A flipper — Otherwise known as a removable partial denture, this dental appliance has an artificial tooth attached to a gum-toned acrylic base.
- A bonded bridge — This tooth replacement is fixed in place using metal or resin to attach the artificial tooth to the natural teeth on both sides of the gap.
- Orthodontic treatment — In some cases, an artificial tooth can be attached to an orthodontic wire or cemented to a retainer.
Which is the best tooth replacement method for your child? And when will your child be ready for dental implants? Those questions are best answered by an experienced oral surgeon. In the greater Salt Lake City area, Dr. Partridge and Dr. Maxfield at Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery of Utah are the go-to professionals for replacing missing teeth for patients of all ages.
As highly trained, board-certified oral surgeons, Dr. Partridge and Dr. Maxfield understand the challenges of early tooth loss in children and can explain your options. Contact our Cottonwood Heights, Tooele or South Jordan office today to schedule a consultation to discuss tooth replacement options and dental implant surgery for kids.