Posted on: 6 June 2016Share
If your child is missing a tooth, you're both likely to be keen to fill the gap. When you're researching solutions, you may decide that dental implants are the best choice. Implants are often considered to be a strong, long-term and natural looking solution to filling gaps. While you and your child may favour an implant, your dentist may not want to use this solution on your child. Why are dentists not keen on using implants on kids and what are the alternatives?
How Implants Are Fitted
Implants come in two parts. They have a post and a false tooth. When you have an implant fitted, the post is inserted into the bone in your jaw. Over time, the bone grows around the post and integrates it into a fixed position. The implant post is then strong enough to hold a false tooth to fill the gap in your mouth.
To succeed, a dental implant typically requires enough healthy bone to allow the post to integrate. While your child may have a high enough bone density to make an implant take and work as it should, the implant itself may pose problems for child and his or her future facial development.
How Implants Affect Growing Jaws
The problem with kids, even when they are well into their teenage years, is the fact that they are still growing. If your dentist feels that your child's jaw has not finished growing yet, you may well be advised not to have implants. When the implant post embeds into the jaw bone, it takes a fixed position – it isn't supposed to move around a lot.
If your child's jaw is not finished growing, the fixed position of the implant could affect the way your child's jaw grows and the ability of the teeth to move as they should to accommodate future growth. For these reasons, dentists tend to want to wait until they are sure that the jaw has stopped growing before they fit implants.
Full jaw growth in children can take a variable amount of time. Typically, girls finish growing faster than boys and their jaws may have finished growing by the time they reach 15. Boys take longer and their jaws may not finish growing until the age of 18. Even if children have reached the average age, some may grow more slowly and later than others. Your dentist may want to wait to check that your child's jaw is done growing and may recommend periodic x-rays to compare changes in the jaw until your dentist is convinced that the jaw is fully developed.
Alternatives to Implants
If your dentist thinks that your child is too young for an implant, you may have no choice but to wait until your child is older to use this solution. In the interim period, your dentist may be able to recommend other solutions such as removable dentures or a bridge that will at least fill the gap and make your child feel more confident about his or her smile.