Dental Implants: Why Children Can't Have Them And The Alternatives They Can Have

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Losing a permanent tooth can happen to anyone. When it happens to an adult, dental implants are usually an option. When a child loses a permanent tooth, they normally are unable to get a dental implant. Here's why.

How Dental Implants Work

A dental implant is made from a post, that is usually titanium, that acts as the root of the tooth. The dentist adds a connector that allows them to attach the replacement tooth to the post. The post fuses with the jawbone, providing support for the replacement tooth, a bridge or denture, and preventing bone loss. Once in place, these implants are permanent.

Children are Growing

Most of the time, a dentist will not put a dental implant in a child's jawbone, because the bone is still growing. While the bone will most likely fuse with the implant's post, it is possible for the implant to shift out of position as the child's jaw grows. This means that the dentist would have to then do surgery in order to correct the implant's position. The implant may also end up too short, causing problems with eating and tooth appearance.

Other Options

Missing a permanent tooth cannot only cause a child difficulty in eating, but it can make them feel self-conscious about their appearance. Since a dental implant is not normally an option for children, there are other treatments available until their jaws have finished growing and they can safely receive an implant.

Sometimes a retainer is made that will keep teeth from moving out of position to where the missing tooth was. This device is removable, but it may not be a good option for those who are missing teeth in obvious places, as they may still feel self-conscious.

Another option for children is a bridge that has just one tooth. The bridge is attached to the teeth around the missing one, while an artificial tooth takes the place of the missing tooth. With this device, a child or adolescent can appear to have all of their teeth while they wait for their jawbone to finish growing so they can receive an implant.

Space maintainers may also be used to ensure that the child's self-esteem is not damaged and that the remaining teeth stay in place. These typically have artificial teeth or plastic blocks that replace the missing tooth and can be removable or fixed in place.

No matter which permanent tooth a child is missing, there are plenty of options for ensuring that their self-esteem and the rest of their teeth remain in good condition. For more information on dental work for missing teeth, contact a company like Crest Hill Family Dental.