Can Teenagers Get Dental Implants for Missing Teeth?

Teenagers can lose teeth for a wide range of reasons. Common incidents include knocking out teeth while playing sports, issues with overcrowding leading to tooth damage and loss, or tooth decay that requires an extraction.

The gap left behind could damage a teenagers confidence, so you might be wondering about the lower age limit for dental implants and if this could be a viable treatment option for them.

While dental implants can be incredibly helpful for some patients, they aren’t right for everyone. There are a number of reasons that a teenager might be unsuitable for dental implants and might want to consider alternative treatment options.

What are dental implants?

What are dental implants?

A dental implant is a small screw placed in the jawbone which replicates the role of the tooth root. The titanium implant fuses with the jaw and provides a stable anchor for a tooth restoration such as a crown, bridge or even a full arch restoration with a denture.

Dental implants are commonly associated with older people who may have lost their teeth due to old age or decay, but some younger people may be eligible for this treatment in certain circumstances.

Can a teenager have dental implants?

This would all depend on the individual case and the reason for the dental implant. There are some situations where it would be appropriate and some situations where other treatment plans would be better suited.

Let’s look first at some of the reasons a teenager shouldn’t have dental implants:

Teeth are still moving

Teeth are still moving

If a teenager loses an adult tooth, this is less serious than an adult losing a tooth. This is because a teenager’s teeth will still be moving and they may shift to close the gap over time. Orthodontics could be used to speed up this process and close any gaps in the smile. A dental implant could therefore cause more problems than it solves, because it will be fixed in place and this could impact the movement of the teeth around it.

Higher risk of failure

Since the mouth and jaw is still developing, there is a higher risk that the implant will simply be rejected and fall out. This would be very disheartening after a long treatment plan. Teenage bones are still soft, so it could make sense to wait until these harden before placing dental implants.

What alternative treatment plans are available?

What alternative treatment plans are available?

For a teenager, a missing tooth can be very damaging to their self esteem. Replacing the missing tooth is clearly a priority, but this doesn't always need to be achieved with a dental implant. Other treatment options include:

  • A partial removable denture – this is a prosthetic tooth attached to a base plate that sits against the roof or base of the mouth. It also has clips that wrap around surrounding teeth to hold it in place.

  • A dental bridge. This is an artificial tooth attached to two crowns on either side. The surrounding teeth provide support for the artificial tooth. This is a permanent, non-removable restoration.

  • Orthodontics – braces may be used to move the remaining teeth and close the gap. If the tooth was lost due to overcrowding, this could be a helpful solution to the issue.

When the teenager is older and their jaw bone has hardened, they can then consider dental implants.

There are some exceptions to these rules. For example, in the case of a traumatic facial injury, dental implants might be recommended to help minimise the emotional distress of missing multiple teeth.

What is the best age for dental implants?

What is the best age for dental implants?

The most important thing is that all of the adult teeth have emerged when the implants are placed. If the implants are placed before this, there is the risk that the implant could interfere with the adult teeth emerging.

Next, we need to consider the age of the child. Girls may be able to have dental implants from around the age of 15 in certain circumstances, whereas boys may need to wait until at least 17. Most dental implant specialists won’t consider dental implants until at least the age of 21.

It may be better to choose an alternative treatment plan to address the missing tooth in the meantime, and then opt for dental implants later in life when the jaw is fully formed.

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