Has Your Teen Lost A Permanent Tooth? What Are Your Options?

When a child loses a baby tooth in an accidental manner, you're unlikely to be too worried -- after all, baby teeth are designed to be temporary, right? However, having your teen suffer the sudden and unexpected loss of a permanent tooth can be a much more unpleasant experience for all involved, and you may be worried about how this will affect your teen's dental development or even self-esteem. What can you do to quickly restore your teen's mouth to normal? Read on to learn more about your teen's permanent (and not-so-permanent) tooth replacement options, as well as the treatment plan you may want to pursue to give your teen the greatest chance of maintaining his or her surrounding teeth.

What are the best tooth replacement options for a teenager?

The ideal replacement option largely depends on the location of the missing tooth and your teen's age and growth patterns. For example, a missing front tooth will likely need to be replaced immediately with a semi-permanent bridge until a permanent implant can be fitted, while a missing molar can be tackled with a metal spacer or other device designed to keep the surrounding teeth from shifting while you decide on a treatment plan.

For visible teeth, a dental bridge may be a great choice. This bridge is made from a false tooth and several brackets that attach to the surrounding teeth for support. When properly fitted and installed, a dental bridge should be indistinguishable from a natural tooth. 

For teens who have reached their adult height and build, a dental implant could also be an option. These implants are made from a false tooth attached to a titanium screw that is inserted (implanted) into the jaw. Over time, this titanium screw will fuse with the jawbone to provide the same strength and durability as a natural tooth. 

What can you do to improve the odds of your teen being able to get implants as an adult?

Although a dental implant is by far the most durable permanent tooth replacement option, it's not always a good idea for kids or teens, whose growing and shifting jaws are likely to move the dental implant far out of its original location or even cause damage to the surrounding teeth and gum tissue. As a result, you'll need to get through these growing years with a less permanent tooth replacement, as your teen may need to be refitted for a bridge or spacer several times over the course of the next few years.

If your child's missing tooth is a molar or bicuspid and is not replaced with a dental bridge, the surrounding teeth may slowly shift to cover this empty space and provide a more solid biting surface for your opposing teeth. This shift may be even more noticeable if the tooth is lost around puberty, as the jaw will undergo a variety of shape and size changes during the next few years. 

While leaving the empty space alone and allowing the surrounding teeth to compensate may seem like the most natural (and least expensive) option, it can also leave your teen with fewer choices once he or she becomes an adult and wants to pursue a more permanent type of tooth replacement. Placing a dental implant into the original space may no longer be possible, and your teen may be faced with the decision to remove one or more of the surrounding teeth or use orthodontic treatment to separate these teeth so that an implant can be placed. 

After your teen's tooth loss, you'll want to ensure that this gap is maintained through the use of a spacer or dental bridge until his or her dentist is certain that jaw growth has stopped and dental implants are a good option.  

For more information about your treatment options for your teen's missing tooth, contact a local clinic like Oral Surgery Associates Inc