A dental implant is the ideal solution for replacing a lost tooth but cannot be done too early.
A question that we often get from parents and especially those who have had dental implants themselves and understand their value is whether their children can have dental implants. Whilst this is understandable as no one wants to see their child missing a tooth and it is now widely acknowledged that dental implants are the best solution for a missing tooth, providing strength, longevity and aesthetically pleasing results. However, dental implants are not always the correct solution and this is the case for children up until a certain age.
The reason for dental implants not being suitable for children, certainly up until their later teen years, is that the jaw, along with the rest of their body, simply has not yet fully developed. This means that if an implant was placed into the jawbone whilst the child was still growing, it is very likely indeed that it will create problems for the grown of the jaw and may impede its growth altogether or even make it grow unevenly. Along with any deformity this may cause, this would also stop the child’s teeth from growing in their correct positions and may create more dental work further down the line such as orthodontics.
Although the age that a child can have dental implants fitted varies, and you should always take your dentist’s advice on this, it is generally considered that males should wait until they are around 18 years of age whilst for females, this can be younger, even as young as 14 in some cases. It is important though not to take these ages as factual as we all know that children develop at different speeds and your dentist should be the one to give you the best advice about whether your child is ready for a dental implant.
But what can be done about a child that has a tooth missing in the meantime, until they are old enough to have a dental implant fitted? Obviously if the missing tooth is a child’s first tooth, then this will be replaced naturally and nothing needs to be done. However, it can certainly be a social stigma for a teenager to having missing teeth, especially if they are visible.
The usual solution in these cases is for a denture to be made to replace the missing tooth. Although this may not seem the ideal solution, it is certainly preferable to risking problems by placing a dental implant into an underdeveloped jaw.