Minimum Age or Age Restriction for Dental Implants
Many people think of tooth loss as part and parcel of growing older, and in some cases, that is true. But the fact is, tooth loss can happen at all ages, due to accidents, trauma, certain medications, and even genetics. For this reason, people of all ages wrestle with the question of what form of tooth replacement is best for them and their individual circumstances.
While there are many factors that come into play in terms of individual suitability for dental implants, one such factor is age. Older adults often worry that their age will disqualify them from enjoying the benefits that dental implants offer, but in fact, the opposite is true: There is in fact no upper age limit on dental implants. There is, however, a restriction on dental implants on the other end of the age spectrum.
Understanding the Structural Support of Dental Implants
Dental implants are composed of three basic parts, one of which (a small post called the implant fixture) is surgically embedded into the jawbone underneath the gumline. Tiny but mighty, this small post, usually made of either titanium or zirconia, is what lends dental implants their tremendous strength and durability. Just like the natural roots of a tooth that emerges from one’s jaw, implant fixtures can absorb large amounts of pressure and force generated by biting and chewing.
In fact, this tiny piece of metal is what makes dental implants so strong and reliable; the prosthetic teeth and appliances that these fixtures retain can transfer the force that they gather down through the post and into the jaw, thereby making the prosthetics strong and durable as well as attractive.
Dental Implants in Children and Adolescents
This structural support piece, however, is also what makes dental implants a poor choice for children and adolescents. Because the implants are introduced directly into the jaw, they can have an impact on the development of the jaw itself if that process has not concluded (usually in the late teens to early twenties).
If implants are embedded into a jaw that is not yet fully developed, it can result in irregularities with one’s bite, increased or decreased spacing between teeth, and even bone loss, which can change the appearance of one’s face. For this reason, dental implants cannot be placed in children; those in their late teens (18-19) must be screened carefully to ensure that they have reached skeletal maturity before implants can be placed.
Temporary Stopgaps for Children and Teens
While dental implants are an excellent choice for those who have reached skeletal maturity, alternative measures will have to be implemented in the meantime for anyone who has not yet reached that developmental milestone. Luckily, temporary bridges and removable dentures can offer the perfect temporary stopgap while your child’s jaw continues to grow. Once skeletal maturity has been reached, the bridge or denture can be discontinued and the dental implants placed. With a little patience, you can safeguard your child’s health, provide a solid temporary solution, and set them up for success later down the road. For a more detailed plan of action for your child, call your dentist today to set up a personalized consultation.