If your teen loses a front tooth participating in sports or playing around, he or she will want to replace it as soon as possible since teens are usually self-conscious about their appearance. The best way to replace a missing tooth is with a dental implant. However, your teen may have to wait for this procedure until the growth of the skull and jaw stops. Here are a few things to know about teens and dental implants.
Why Dental Implants Are Best
A dental implant is a good choice for your teen because it helps prevent bone loss. Losing a tooth at any age is a bad situation, but it is especially unfortunate for a teen with a long life ahead. An implant stimulates the bone so no loss occurs that could affect the smile or facial appearance. Plus, an implant lasts a lifetime. While the crown portion may chip or crack, the implant is deep in the bone so it is strong and protected. Having an implant is about as good as having a natural tooth, since your teen will be able to chew normally, and the tooth surface looks like normal enamel.
When Teens Are Ready For Implants
Your child may not be able to get an implant right away. It's necessary for the jaw to stop growing first. The age this happens varies from child to child. It is usually in the late teens, but your dentist will make the determination through x-rays and other tests. It's necessary to wait because implants won't grow along with your child's jaw like a normal tooth does. A real tooth connects to the bone with a ligament. Because of this, real teeth shift in place and change their alignment as the jaw grows. This is also why teeth can be adjusted with braces. An implant actually fuses with the bone, so it stays firmly in place. If an implant is put in too early, the tooth may jut out by the time your child is an adult. That would affect his or her appearance in a negative way, and may require expensive dental work to correct.
What To Do While Waiting On An Implant
If your teen has to wait a year or two to get an implant, the dentist can fill in the tooth with a temporary appliance. One thing you probably don't want to do is have a fixed bridge put on. In order to do that, the dentist has to shave enamel off the two teeth that hold the bridge in place. The damage is irreversible, so it really isn't the best thing to so if your child will get an implant in the future. Instead, a dentist (such as one from Oral Surgery Associates Inc) can make a partial denture or resin-bonded bridge. These are both temporary appliances that place an artificial tooth in the gap, and keep the other teeth in alignment.
If your teen can't have an implant right away, there is no need for concern, since one of these temporary dental appliances will function well enough to allow your child to eat and speak normally. Best of all, your teen will have a nice smile with no gaps to cause problems with self-esteem while waiting to have an implant.