Generally, eighteen is considered the minimum age for dental implants. However, there is much more to consider besides a patient’s age. Dental implants may be unsuitable for you or your teenager if jaw development is in progress. There are alternatives that will work to help preserve your smile while you wait for implants.
Teenagers are still growing at eighteen, and this growth includes face and jaw bones. When the jawbone is growing and not yet fixed, there is a risk that the implants will damage the growing bones.
Growing bones are also easier to fracture, and the tissue and ligaments holding the teeth are still soft and also not yet fixed. When young people reach the end of their development stage, the bones, ligaments, and tissues become stable and thus more suitable for dental implants.
When teenagers are missing teeth, the first step is to conduct a thorough oral examination and assess physical development. We will ask:
- Has he/she continued to grow?
- Has his/her shoe size continued to grow?
- Does he/she sleep and eat more?
- Is he/she uncoordinated?
Typically, if one or more of these factors is present, the teenager or young adult is not yet an implant candidate. However, don’t ignore missing teeth. If you don’t treat the condition or issue that caused the tooth loss, gums may soften and recede, making permanent solutions an unlikely scenario. Fortunately, we have options for still-growing bodies.
Alternatives to implants
There is life after tooth-knocking sports injuries or accidents. Teenagers are especially self-conscious, making tooth replacement necessary for their physical health and self-esteem. They may not be able to get implants, but they can receive:
You may assume dentures are reserved for senior citizens, but many younger people use them too. They are a great fill-in until your teenager can get implants.
Once fitted, your teenager can eat and drink mostly anything. Today, dentures fit better and look more natural. Most people won’t notice your teenager is wearing them.
Bridges are a great option for growing mouths. They involve creating a crown for the teeth on either side of the missing tooth, with a false tooth in between. These dental devices work best in cases where only a few teeth are missing.
Once fitted, there are no limitations to what you can or cannot eat or drink. Care includes basic brushing and flossing. Like dentures, they are a fill-in until your teenager can have a more permanent solution such as a dental implant.
Are you considering implants?
Implants are an attractive option when your teenager is missing teeth. However, readiness is essential to ensure implants don’t interfere with future growth. Dr. Mike can assess your situation and determine whether implants are the right choice. Call the Cleveland Implant Institute today to schedule an appointment.