For adults, surgical intervention for replacing teeth with dental implants is completely safe and highly effective at restoring the look and function of your teeth. The added bonus is that, even more than not affecting the other teeth around the implant, it actually stabilizes the other teeth, your jaw, and your bite. Dental implants are installed into the jaw bone, replacing the root of the missing tooth, and is then crowned with an entire fake tooth that looks and feels natural. And, most of the time, dental implants last a lifetime.
So, your kid comes back from riding his bike and roughhousing with his friends and shows you a space where a tooth used to be. It happens. Unfortunately, it’s an adult tooth he lost, so there’s not another one coming in to replace the tooth that got knocked out – they’re out of luck. There are several options for replacing teeth knocked out by facial trauma, dental implants being the gold standard in the field of oral surgery.
But is dental implant surgery safe to perform on kids?
Reasons Why Dental Implants Aren’t an Option for Children
Pediatric dentistry and oral surgery is different for kids than adults. Why? Adults are fully-grown; not a lot is changing there with regard to jaw position and mouth structure. Kids’ jaws, on the other hand, are always changing, usually until the age of 15 to 18. This presents different challenges for oral surgeons who replace kids’ missing teeth – challenges that require different strategies. A few reasons kids can’t get dental implants are:
- A permanent installation like a dental implant can interfere with other teeth erupting properly.
- As the child’s jaw continues developing, the implant can move out of place.
- In rare cases where a surgeon performs dental implant surgery on a child who has suffered facial trauma, the dental implant will likely need to be replaced a few times as the child grows.
Don’t worry – your kid’s not out of luck with that knocked-out tooth. There are flippers and partial bridges they can use as tooth replacements now, and get dental implants when they’re a bit older and it’s safe.