Dental implants are often the solution for missing teeth as they do the best job of replicating the look and feel of natural teeth.
Are they a good solution for children who have lost teeth or are missing teeth due to malformations? In most cases, the dental profession advises that they are not a good solution for anyone whose jaw has not stopped growing, which is the case for children.
Why Wait for Dental Implants
When children lose a tooth naturally, most parents resign themselves to looking at their snaggle-toothed child in school pictures. When a child has lost a baby tooth prematurely due to an accident, has lost a permanent tooth that cannot be re-implanted in the mouth, or has a congenital condition with a are missing one or more teeth, the parents might be concerned that the missing teeth will be a cause for bullying or a lack of self-confidence in their child.
The most well-accepted school of thought about replacing missing teeth with implants in kids believes that children are poor candidates for dental implants for several reasons. Most importantly, their jaws have not fully developed. The growth process is not completed in boys until about 17 years of age, while for girls the ages earlier at 14 to 16 years of age. Any implant placed prematurely might shift out of place. Even if the initial bonding between the bone and the titanium implant takes place, it may not hold as young mouths may not yet have enough bone to support the implant. Furthermore, as a child’s jaw grows, the implant might sink into the bone.
Alternatives to Implants
Rather than do dental implants, dentists use other alternatives to improve the appearance of the mouth in young patients. For example, he might be able to make a partial removable denture (a flipper tooth) that the child might be able to wear until he was old enough for dental implants. As might also be able to try dental bonding. For those undergoing orthodontia, the dentist can attach an artificial tooth to the braces that will make sure that other teeth do not impede upon the space that the implant will eventually take. When the child is old enough, the dentist can put an implant in place.
When Youthful Implants are Called for
A growing school of thought in the dental world suggests that when teeth are missing from the alveolar ridge on the top or bottom of the mouth, that the jawbone will not properly develop. Bone loss occurs rapidly. Adding implants even in children, can prevent this condition for certain types of youthful patients.
For children who are candidates for early implants, bone grafting surgery is usually necessary to add enough bone to provide fertile ground for the implant. Once the implant is put in place, there remains a risk that it can sink into the bone as a child grows, which will require replacement of the crown on the implanted screw. In the best case, osseointegration will take place quickly due to improved metal implants
Waiting until a later age is the best approach to dental implants for most children, but can be workable even on young patients in some cases. To discuss whether dental implants would work for your child, contact Oral Surgery of Utah.