When a child loses a baby tooth prematurely, a space maintainer may be put into place to prevent adjacent teeth from shifting. As the permanent tooth prepares to erupt, the maintainer is removed to make way. When a permanent tooth is lost, an adult may see about a tooth implant; however, a child still has obstacles that prevent this procedure except in extreme cases.
Growth – One of things required for the success of a tooth implant is the ability for bone to grow around the implant. Since a child has not reached maximum growth, the implant itself could move within the gum tissue as the child matures and jaw bones grow. This could result in dental implant failure. The minimum age recommended for this procedure is generally eighteen years old.
Ability to Care for Dental Implants – The first few months following implant placement are critical to the success of the procedure. The patient must provide maximum care including daily flossing, brushing, and keeping the implant area clean to prevent infection. This is not a responsibility most children could handle. The exception may be in conjunction with orthodontic repair where the dentist is aware of the implant placed and makes allowances throughout care.
If a child’s permanent tooth is lost to trauma, decay, or disease, your dentist can place a space maintainer to prevent teeth from shifting so when the child matures and desires a dental implant, the space is there to do so.
In the meantime, some type of prosthesis can be fabricated for the child to wear for aesthetic purposes if a front tooth is involved.
Once the young adult has achieved maturity, the space maintainer can be removed and dental implant can be placed. At this point, understanding the possibility of implant failure can be stressed and how to care for the implant to prevent infection fully explained.
The dental implant will become a permanent part of the dental anatomy once the healing process is completed. The implant will act like the root of a biological tooth providing strength and stability to the final restoration.
The final restoration will be fabricated to match neighboring teeth making it virtually undetectable. The young adult will need to maintain a daily regimen of brushing, flossing, and seeing our dentist, Dr. Richard Sousa, every six months … doing so should allow the implant to serve for life.