Can Children Get Dental Implants?
Most kids tend to have accidents that cause some sort of injury while growing up. The injuries usually range from a scraped knee to a broken bone. Most of us don’t make it into adulthood without a scar, or chipped tooth. When a child falls and loses a tooth, what can be done?
Dentists generally refer to a tooth that has been knocked out as an avulsed tooth. The accidental loss of a tooth through trauma is considered a very serious dental emergency for a permanent tooth (occurs in about 10% of the population). When a primary tooth is avulsed, re-implantation is generally not successful. The remaining space is usually left open for the permanent tooth to arrive. When a permanent tooth is avulsed, if you act quickly enough, there is a chance the avulsed tooth can be saved and maintained for many years. Even the best techniques and intentions do not always lead to a successful outcome for an avulsed tooth.
The usual cause of an avulsed tooth is a force sufficient to break the bond between the tooth and the connection (periodontal ligament) to the bone. An avulsed tooth has no oxygen or blood flow and will die quickly if not re implanted. The primary goal of quick reimplementation is to maintain the periodontal ligament, so that the tooth is not rejected. The avulsed tooth will always need to be splinted to the other teeth, and usually, but not always, require a root canal. The speed in which the tooth is re implanted, the cleanliness of it, and how hydrated or wet it has been, all play key roles in whether or not re-implantation of the avulsed tooth will be successful.
My Child Lost A Tooth Too Early…What Now?
So what if the tooth is lost…..Can my child get dental implants?
Unfortunately, for children, the answer is no. Dental implants can only be placed after the bones of the jaw are finished growing. Dental implants placed during growth will impede jaw growth as well as proper movement of teeth into their natural places in the mouth.
The earliest recommended ages for dental implants are as follows:
-Males – At least 17 years old.
-Females – At least 15 years old.
The determining factor for males and females is completion of growth. Females generally complete growth at an earlier age and thus can receive dental implants sooner to replace lost teeth.
Alternate Treatment Options To Dental Implants
Few children and most teenagers are going to want to replace their missing tooth as soon as possible. The options are quite limited and include the following:
-Flipper -This is a removable appliance that is able to fill the space of the missing tooth with an artificial tooth. This can create a cosmetic appearance that would be undetectable by others. It can appear very natural looking, but may affect speech and taste.
-Dental Bonding – While very rare, there are instances where a “fake” tooth can be bonded to a natural tooth.
-Braces (Orthodontics) – Sometimes the missing tooth space can be closed with braces, or a false tooth can be placed on an orthodontic wire while the bite is restored.
Accidents happen. Fortunately, most tooth loss is short-lived for a child, as permanent teeth will soon come in to replace the baby teeth. For many, the cosmetics are not much of an issue, and can be left alone to fill in naturally. For others, there are options to help with the space maintenance and cosmetics after tooth loss. No matter what, you should discuss options with your dentist. While some teeth may be replaced by permanent teeth in a few months, others may be several years. Choose what works best for you and your child. If a permanent tooth is lost, your child will most likely need replacement after growth has ended. Once a child matures and completes growing, dental implants can replace the lost tooth and give a lifetime of smiles.