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Are Dental Implants Safe For Kids?

Are Dental Implants Safe For Kids?

You’re at your teenage daughter’s basketball game and everything’s going great. She has scored a few baskets and her team is winning. Then the game takes a turn for the worse when your daughter is elbowed in the jaw. She’s on the ground in pain, and when you finally get a close look at her mouth, you see a tooth is missing. What’s the best way to repair the damage?

Are Dental Implants Safe For Kids

The ideal way to handle a knocked-out tooth – or an avulsed tooth, as dentists call them – is to preserve the tooth in saline solution compatible with the human body. Get to Dr. Evanson’s office as fast as possible to increase the chances of a successful re-implantation. If your child plays sports, keep a Save-a-Tooth kit on hand for such emergencies.

If the avulsed tooth can’t be re-implanted, your next thought might be a dental implant. Is this option safe for your child? And if not, what alternatives do you have?

Qualifications for Dental Implants

While dental implants are the standard way to replace missing permanent teeth in adults, they aren’t the go-to option for children. This is because dental implants can only be placed in patients whose jaw has finished growing.

If a dental implant is placed in a young patient, it may impede jaw growth and stop other teeth from coming in naturally. Dental implants are placed directly into the bone and lack a functioning periodontal ligament, so they don’t move as easily as natural teeth do.

The minimum ages for dental implants are:

  • At least 15 years old for girls.
  • At least 17 years old for boys.

The recommended age is different for each gender because bone growth in girls is usually complete before bone growth in boys. By these ages, the jaw has probably finished growing, or has at least reached the point where dental implants aren’t likely to adversely affect future growth.

Alternatives to Dental Implants

Not many teens and pre-teens want to go about life with a missing tooth. Instead of being left with a gap in their smile, they can pursue alternatives while they wait to have a dental implant a few years from now. Here are some of those options:

  • Removable partial denture: This removable denture has one or more artificial teeth attached to it as needed. Wearing a partial denture hides the fact that your child is missing a tooth.
  • Bridge: Choose from a tooth-supported fixed bridge or a resin-bonded bridge. A fixed bridge requires the teeth adjacent to the gap to be ground down so a crown can be attached to support the bridge. A resin-bonded bridge doesn’t involve this prep work so healthy, adjacent teeth aren’t damaged. These options typically look and function better than a removable denture.
  • Braces: If you were already thinking of getting your child braces when her tooth was knocked out, you can still move forward with your plans. An artificial tooth can be attached to an orthodontic wire to fill the gap left by the avulsed tooth while the braces correct crooked teeth and bite problems.
  • Space maintainers: If your child is younger when she has her accident, it’s likely a baby tooth has been knocked out. A permanent tooth will grow in its place, but to ensure everything remains properly aligned until this happens, you can pursue a space maintainer. Removable and fixed space maintainers are available, depending on your child’s situation and which tooth has been knocked out.

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