Ask Our Dentist – Dental Implants

Mike Allen answers a mother’s concerns about her teenage son’s lost teeth.

The next in our series of typical dentist questions looks at whether dental implants can be used for younger patients.

Q. My 14 year old son is pretty active and also a little accident prone. The other week he fell from his bike and complained of a pain in his mouth. We took him to a dentist who told us that he has two teeth that are badly damaged and will have to be extracted. Thankfully, they aren’t his front teeth but will be noticed when he laughs or smile. I really don’t want a 14 year old to have to suffer the embarrassment of wearing dentures and wondered whether dental implants are possible?

Thank you for your question and sorry to hear about his accident. Unfortunately, if a tooth is badly damaged and can’t be effectively restored, it is better to extract it, otherwise infections are likely to occur in the root area where the nerves of a tooth are stored, causing abscesses and, quite likely, a lot of pain.

With regards to the use of dental implants; I’m afraid that these are not a viable option in a young child. The reason for this is that their faces are still growing and, as the jaw changes shape, it would cause the implants to move and create other problems. I can understand you not wishing to have dentures for your son, although modern dentures, such as the ones available from Mike Allen’s Dental Practice, are probably much more comfortable and effective than ones that you are familiar with.

Naturally, I would need to examine your son, before making any diagnosis, but, aside from dentures, the other main option available is to have a dental bridge fitted. These could be used until such a time, usually late teens, when the face is fully developed and dental implants can be used. The downside to a bridge though is that the teeth adjacent to the gap may need to be prepared and shaped so that the bridge can be attached. This is an option, but one which affects otherwise healthy teeth as well.

I think that the best thing to do would be to bring your son to our Burton dental practice for an examination, and we can discuss the various options with you both. Dental implants are certainly an excellent solution in the longer term, but we need to find a temporary solution in the meantime. You could simply leave the gap but this is not really a good idea as it could result in movement of the other teeth in that area over time. These would really need to be straightened, using modern orthodontics, prior to any implant placement later on.

Please come and talk with our friendly Burton dentist by giving us a call on 01283 845345. I look forward to seeing you both soon to discuss the best way forward for your child.