Teeth are supposed to last for a lifetime, but 120 million Americans are missing at least one tooth. Adults aren’t the only people to suffer the devastation of tooth loss. Teens can also lose permanent teeth. With dental implants being the most successful and reliable solution to replace missing teeth, it’s natural to want the best for your child when filling the gap in their smile. Unfortunately, teens are rarely candidates for dental implants, and here’s why.
Dental Implants Replace the Entire Tooth
A dental implant is unique from any other treatment because it replaces both the root and the crown. A titanium post is surgically placed into the jaw to mimic a root. The bone fuses to the post through a process called osseointegration. An abutment is attached to the post to connect a customized restoration.
This creates the next best thing to a real tooth using a method that has over a 95% success rate. A dental implant can last for decades with the right aftercare. While most people with good oral and general health are candidates for the procedure, there is one big requirement for teenagers.
Teenagers Aren’t Good Candidates
A person must be finished growing to be a candidate for dental implants. It’s not unusual for someone to continue growing into their twenties. As a result, your teen’s jawbone may not be fully formed. The last thing you want is their implant falling out as their jaw continues to develop.
Not to mention the upper and lower arches grow at various speeds. Since everyone develops at a different rate, some teens can be ready for dental implants at 17 or 18, while others may not be candidates until they are 21. Since girls typically finish growing before boys, some can get implants during their teen years, but their dentist will monitor their growth to determine the ideal time to schedule their placement surgery.
Options for Treating Tooth Loss in Teens
If your teen isn’t a candidate for dental implants just yet, they don’t have to live with a gap in their smile. A partial denture can fill the space without permanently altering their remaining teeth.
A prosthetic tooth is set in a gum-colored base that has a metal framework, which allows it to clip or clasp onto their natural teeth to stay in place. A partial denture is preferred over a bridge when treating tooth loss in teens who intend to get a dental implant down the road.
A bridge requires the adjacent teeth to be reshaped to allow dental crowns to fit over them to hold it in place. A partial is less invasive because it doesn’t require altering any other teeth. It will fill the gap temporarily and when the time is right, their dentist can permanently replace the tooth with a dental implant.
About Dr. Ted Morgan
Dr. Morgan earned his dental degree at the University of Illinois at the Chicago College of Dentistry and has regularly continued his education in many specialties, like dental implants. He is a proud member of the American Dental Association and the Academy of General Dentistry. Request an appointment through our website or call (207) 618-9587.