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Children and Dental Implants

Childhood is full of scrapes and falls, and unfortunately, sometimes children lose permanent teeth during sports or as a result of other accidents. If your child has had a permanent tooth traumatically lost or extracted due to nonrestorable caries or fracture, you might wonder what to do and what your options are to replace it.

You should talk with your child’s dentist and orthodontist as well, but most oral surgeons will echo our opinion: children are not good candidates for dental implants. Why? Because their jaws are still developing, and for most children, full development isn’t complete until between the ages of 16 and 18. Placing an implant in a jaw that is not finished growing yet can cause complications. The dental implant might dislocate and end up in the wrong place. It can also cause problems with jaw growth and make it difficult for other teeth to grow into their proper positions.

Here’s the good news: although a nine-year-old who has lost a permanent tooth isn’t eligible for dental implants today, he or she will be later on when the jaw is finished developing.

If an accident causes loss of your child’s tooth, you might be able to save it and have it re-implanted. Here’s what to do:

  • Preserve the tooth. Immediately after the accident, retrieve the tooth (if possible). Holding it by the crown not the root, rinse the tooth gently with water, and try to reinsert it into the socket. Have your child hold the tooth in place with a clean cloth or gauze until you can get to the dentist.
  • If reinsertion isn’t possible, store the tooth. An alternative is to store the tooth in a container of milk or sterile saline solution (but not water, which doesn’t preserve the tooth as effectively). Your child can also place the tooth in the cheek, as saliva helps preserve the tooth. Get to the dentist right away, and of course, bring the tooth with you.

What can you do if you can’t find the tooth or it cannot be re-implanted?

For younger children, the best option is a transitional partial denture. This is essentially a false tooth that will be supported by the surrounding teeth—like a orthodontic retainer with a tooth on it. Once a child’s jaw is finished developing, you’ll have more options, including a permanent bridge, a permanent partial denture, or a dental implant.

If your child has lost a permanent tooth, call your dentist immediately. However, if your child has been wearing a partial denture and you want an opinion on whether he or she is eligible for dental implants, call us. We’re happy to discuss your child’s options and schedule an appointment to answer any questions. Contact us at one of our three convenient locations: Hackensack: 201.343.8297, Westwood: 201.664.5656, or Ridgewood: 201.444.4137.