Dental implants are a great option to permanently replace a missing tooth, but they aren't a great solution for everyone. For example, dental implants may not be the best choice for someone whose jaw bones are still growing and developing. This can make for a tough situation if you have a teen who is missing a tooth. Here's a look at some basic information about teens and the option for dental implants.
Why Does Jaw Development Matter?
As a child's jaw bone develops, that bone grows and shifts. Along with it, your child's natural teeth shift too. The structure of your jaw and teeth is such that they work together and shift accordingly as a kid's facial structure changes during different phases of growth. During this growth process, each child's jaw line can undergo significant changes.
Dental implants fuse to the jaw bone, but they don't have the same flexibility that a natural tooth does. As a result, implants won't shift and develop with the bone the way that natural teeth do. This can lead to problems with dental implants appearing uneven if the natural teeth shift upward with the jaw bone and the implant does not. Your child may also develop gaps around the implant if the natural teeth on either side shift.
Since a dental implant is considered to be a permanent repair, it's important that you're not rushing it. You'll want to be sure that your child's jaw will handle the implant without any shifting or other damage. By waiting until the jaw bone is fully mature, you eliminate these risks.
When Is Jaw Development Complete?
For most people, the jaw bone continues to shift and change until the wisdom teeth erupt. Since those don't erupt until early adulthood in most situations, that means that teenagers are still seeing some jaw line changes and bone development until around the late teens. Your child's dentist can evaluate the jaw bone growth through a set of x-rays to determine if your child is nearing jaw bone maturity.
If you're considering a dental implant to help your child deal with a missing tooth, talk with his or her dentist first. A professional assessment can help you determine the best possible time for this procedure. In the meantime, your dentist or a prosthodontist may be able to provide a short-term solution that will help your child be more comfortable until the implant can be done.
For more information, contact Oral Surgery Center or a similar location.
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