Approximately 20% of adults are congenitally missing a permanent tooth. A congenitally missing tooth is one that will never erupt, because the tooth is missing. Dentists are able to locate congenitally missing teeth in kids on the x-rays they take. If your child is diagnosed with this problem and is missing one or more teeth, you may wonder what can be done about this. Dental implants are one option you could look into; however, this is not something young children can get. Before you decide what to do, there are several important things to know about this problem.
The Baby Tooth May Last
After finding out from your child's dentist that he or she is missing one or more permanent teeth, you might be worried. There is actually no reason to worry, though. This happens with a lot of kids, and it is not as big of an issue as you would think, especially if the congenitally missing teeth are molars.
In some cases, it is not a problem simply because the baby tooth in its place may not even fall out. Baby teeth tend to come out as a child grows up, and this primarily occurs as the permanent teeth begin to erupt. When there is no permanent tooth there to erupt, the baby tooth may not experience any pressure, which means it may not even fall out.
Depending on which tooth it is, your child's dentist may tell you this and may suggest doing nothing at this point. If the baby tooth does eventually fall out or gets filled with too much decay, the dentist may then recommend looking into tooth replacement options.
Orthodontics Can Sometimes Help
Orthodontics is a branch of dentistry used to straighten teeth, close gaps, and repair jaw alignment issues. In some cases, it can even be used to solve the problem of missing permanent teeth. This of course will depend on which teeth are missing. When a child is permanently missing his or her front teeth, orthodontics cannot help. If the child is missing a molar tooth, it can help though.
With braces, an orthodontist might be able to shift the child's teeth in a way that fills in the gaps. This would offer several benefits, which include:
- The child would not have to worry about replacing the missing teeth.
- The child could eat easier, because there would not be any gaps.
- The child's teeth would not shift out of place to fill in these gaps as he or she ages.
If this is not a feasible option, a dentist may suggest using tooth replacement strategies.
Tooth Replacement Strategies Can Be Used
In some cases, replacing the congenitally missing teeth with tooth replacements is the best option to consider. When a child is young, this can be accomplished with a dental bridge or with removable partial dentures. For older children, dental implants are often recommended. Kids cannot get dental implants when they are young, though. Their mouths and jaws are still developing, which means a dental implant would be too risky to use.
When girls are around 14 years old, their mouths are usually developed fully, which means they can get implants. For boys, the age is around 17, because boys do not develop as quickly as girls in most cases. In most cases, a baby tooth will still be in place with teens this age if the permanent tooth is missing. Because of this, you will most likely not have to decide what to do until your child is this age or older.
If you would like to learn more about how dental implants can help your child with his or her congenitally missing teeth, contact a dentist, such as Schirmer Dentistry, in your area that specializes in dental implants.