Does your teen have a missing permanent tooth that needs to be replaced? While you (and your teen) may be anxious to schedule dental implant surgery, you should know that your teenager may have to wait. Dental implants are undoubtedly the best method to replace a lost or missing tooth, whether you are going to college or going to a nursing home. However, for teenagers, there is a timing and jaw growth issue that must be cleared before you book your dental implant surgery.
Dental Implants and Jaw Development
The primary distinction of a dental implant versus other restorative options is the fact that dental implants are placed directly into the jawbone. Over time, the implant (titanium post) fuses to the surrounding bone to form a firm foundation for a dental implant restoration on top, which is often a dental crown for a single missing tooth. This allows dental implants to be a permanent tooth replacement option.
An important prerequisite for dental implant surgery is adequate bone structure, which includes enough height, width and density of the jawbone to support a dental implant. While adults may be faced with lost bone structure from gum disease or prolonged time after missing teeth, teenagers must consider jaw bone development. The jawbone growth must be complete before implant surgery can be performed. If the bone hasn’t fully developed, serious issues can arise later. For example, if dental implants are placed while the jaw is still in growth and transition, the implant could eventually tilt or become crooked and disrupt the teen’s smile alignment.
What Is the Minimum Age for Getting Dental Implants?
There’s no set age for when implant surgery can be performed, as every patient’s jawbone grows at a slightly different rate. However, through advanced dental imaging, we can determine the approximate time frame that your teen can get dental implants. In general, growth plates in the wrist can often tell us whether the jawbone development is complete. Girls are typically ready for implants by the age of 14 or 15, but boys commonly have to wait until about 17 years of age.
Your Options While You Wait
If your teen is not yet old enough to get dental implants, it doesn’t mean they have to walk around with a gapped smile, as we know this can be detrimental for a socially-conscious adolescent. A partial denture or bridge can be used to replace your child’s missing tooth or teeth until their jawbone finishes growing.
Want to know more about dental implants at a young age? Call Dr. Wayne Suway in Marietta.