A missing tooth can be devastating for a teenager. Not only can it have an adverse effect on their confidence, it can also impact the alignment and health of their remaining teeth. Implants, a common solution for adults, are not always the best solution for a teen. This article will provide you the information you need to know regarding when to get an implant placed and what to do until then. This knowledge can help alleviate many of the stigmas associated with a missing tooth.
Two things can lead to alignment issues in the mouth, which affects implant timing. First, your teen must have finished any prescribed orthodontic care before an implant can even be considered. If there is any chance that your child will need or desire braces to fix any alignment issues in the future, go ahead and begin the procedure now. Your teen should not get any form of implant until this task is complete, since final alignment affects the placement location of the implant.
A Growing Problem
Second, your teen needs to be finished growing; otherwise growth and changes in the jaw can affect the placement of the implant. This can be a guessing game, since there is no exact age when growth stops. Generally, girls stop growing earlier than boys. You may need to work with your child's doctor, who can measure their growth plates and provide the dentist with an accurate assessment of whether your child has finished growing.
Care and Maturity
In some cases, maturity may also be a concern. An implant is simply a metal rod inserted into the bone, which then has a crown, or the tooth, attached to it. This tooth will need the same amount of care and attention as a regular tooth, otherwise your child will be prone to tooth decay on the surrounding natural teeth or gum disease, which can even affect the implant area. Receding gums caused by poor hygiene can result in a gap between the implant crown and the gums, which provides a breeding ground for infection-causing bacteria. Your teen needs to be mature enough to understand the importance of and to follow through with a thorough dental care program, including daily flossing, if they want a successful implant.
If your teen isn't quite ready for an implant, you should still look into replacement options. Not only does this help your child's confidence, it also prevents the teeth from shifting into the space left by the missing tooth. The semi-permanent fix is a bridge, or false tooth. This tooth is placed in the gap and held in place by bonding it to the teeth on either side of it. Then, when your teen is ready, the bridge is removed and an implant is placed in the location.
If you have further concerns or questions, consider speaking with a representative from Riverdale Dental Arts.