Dental Implants: a Small, but Important Difference
Dental implants are the tooth replacement option that is most like your natural teeth, but they’re not identical. Dental implants are secured directly into the bone, but natural teeth aren’t.
Natural teeth are surrounded by bone, but they’re not directly part of the bone. They’re secured by periodontal ligaments that allow them to move.
When a child’s jawbone is growing, that small amount of flexibility is crucial. It allows the body to move natural teeth around. It can’t do that with dental implants. The presence of dental implants in the growing jawbone could also lead to minor complications around the implant.
To avoid problems, it’s best to wait until after the jawbone has stopped growing.
Has Your Child’s Jawbone Finished Growing?
We know that jawbone growth is complete by the late teens (for girls) or early 20s (for boys). But that’s just a rough estimate. Your child’s jaw will grow at its own pace, and we will have to determine whether it’s complete through an exam.
Often times, we can tell if jawbone growth is complete with x-rays. Other times, we might have to feel the jaw to determine what stage of growth it is at.
What to Do in the Meantime
So, what should you do while you’re waiting for your child’s jaw to finish growing? There are many potential options, though some of them are only temporary.
If your child is getting braces, a replacement tooth placeholder can be put in the braces to help save the space. This works best if your child might be finished with orthodontic treatment about the time they are ready for an implant.
Children can also get a partial denture. This partial denture can be highly aesthetic, but it’s unlikely to be functional. You child will probably have to take it out to eat.
A dental bridge–or fixed partial denture–is a fully functional replacement, but it does have some limitations.
First, a dental bridge depends on modifying some of your child’s natural, healthy teeth. That can compromise those teeth in the long-term.
Dental bridges also don’t support your child’s jawbone, which can be resorbed (removed) if your body think it’s no longer important for keeping your smile healthy.
Finally, a fixed denture can be a bit of a problem if your child is having orthodontic work done. It can be hard to plan how to move the three teeth (two natural support teeth and the replacement tooth) as one unit. This can lead to orthodontic and bite problems later.
If you are looking for a family dentist who always offers the best treatments appropriate for any member of your family, please call (614) 848-5001 for an appointment with a Columbus, OH cosmetic dentist at the Center for Family & Cosmetic Dentistry.