While they seem all grown up and independent, teenagers are actually still going through an important phase of growth and development. This is the time of their life when they notice big changes in their bodies. They grow taller, their voices get deeper, and their hormones seem to be all over the place.
While not noticeable, changes are also taking place in teenagers orally. More specifically, it’s the time of facial growth and jaw development. There are many instances when teenagers seek to get dental implants after losing a tooth or two because of an accident, injury, or dental issue. But dentists heavily advise against this because, at this point in their lives, their facial and oral structures have not fully developed.
The way we look when we’re teenagers is significantly different from how we will look as adults. This is because from childhood to adulthood, our facial structure goes through constant evolution, which also includes changes to our jaws, mouth, and teeth.
During our teen years, our jawbones develop and change the structure of our faces. They can either curve upward and downward, moving dental bones, tissues, and ligaments along with it. Implanting an artificial tooth during these formative years before the jaw develops completely messes up the alignment of the tooth implant. Because they are not connected to most bones and ligaments, they stay in one angle despite changes in jaw structure and run the risk of receding into the gums.
The success of a dental implant depends on the density of the bone on the implant site. And because at teen years, the bone is not yet fully developed and in place, an implant can lead to future problems.
Dental implants should be reserved for after the jaw and facial structures have completed their development phase. While the exact age can differ depending on the growth rate of each teenager, there is a generally accepted timeline. For females, dental implants can be possible at the age of 17. For males who undergo development changes at a much slower pace, they would have to wait until they reach 21 to 22 years of age.
A dentist can advise you on whether or not the jaw has fully developed and give you the green light for dental implants. But there are some tell-tale signs that it’s not the right time, such as if a teenager’s height is increasing, their shoe size is changing, and other indications that they are still growing.
While permanent dental implants are not possible during teenage years, your dentist can recommend other alternatives. Teens can experience a lot of pressure to fix how they look and appear presentable, so trying an alternative to dental implants can be a good idea.
One of the common solutions is a partial denture, which is a prosthetic tooth with removable acrylic support that is locked into place with metal that clasps around the surrounding teeth. It looks similar to a dental implant but does not have the latter’s permanent nature. It’s removable, which means that it won’t hamper jaw and facial development.
If your teenage child does not quite like the idea of dentures, another option is a bonded bridge. This is a form of a prosthetic tooth that extends to either side and bonds to its neighboring teeth. Its advantage compared to partial dentures is the lack of metal clasps. Instead, it’s more aesthetic in the sense that the bonds are situated at the back of the tooth, making it look natural from a front view.
For any dental procedure, it’s important that you speak with a dental professional. After a thorough examination, a dentist or oral surgeon can provide you with the most suitable solutions for your dental condition, age, and development stage.