Pediatric Dental Implants: Why Not And What Now?

Posted on: 5 October 2018

Dental implants are a great option for adults who are missing permanent teeth.  A dental implant is a permanent fixture in the mouth, unlike other tooth replacement options. During the process, a titanium post is placed under the gum, and a replacement tooth is eventually secured to the post. Since implants fuse with bone in the jaw, there is a high success rate and none of the pesky little annoyances that come with dentures. 

What about children that are missing a permanent tooth? 

Since dental implants are permanent and fuse with bone, they are not usually an option for children. Kids' jaws are still developing and growing, which makes it difficult for the implant to bond with the bone the way it needs to. An implant installed too soon may also move as the jaw grows.  

It is difficult to tell when a child's jaw is done growing, but this doesn't typically happen until the child reaches mid to late teens. Since females tend to finish growing sooner than males, girls tend to be close to age 15, and boys close to age 18 by the time their jawbone is fully grown. Even then, it is important to verify that the jawbone has, in fact, stopped growing. This can be done by taking x-rays of the mouth every six months until a year has gone by with no growth.

What are a child's options?

Children still have options, even though they can't get a permanent dental implant. 


Braces can be useful in a couple of different ways. They can be used to move other teeth and try to close the space where the tooth is missing. The can also be used to create and essentially "hold" the space where the tooth is missing so a dental implant can be installed when the child is older. 


A flipper is a removable piece that has a fake tooth attached to it, like a retainer combined with a denture. Flippers tend to be used for cosmetic reasons and aren't incredibly durable. They may not fit perfectly, can make it hard to chew, and aren't great for gums. However, they are also fairly inexpensive and easily replaced.  


If a portion of the tooth still remains in the mouth, instead of extracting the permanent tooth, bonding could be an option. In this process, what remains of the original tooth is "rebuilt" with a tooth-like material. 

Just because a child is unable to get a dental implant at their age, doesn't mean all hope is lost! There are other options available for those who are not done growing yet, and down the road, if a dental implant is still desired that option will still be available for them. For more information, contact your local dental implant services.