What is the minimum age for dental implants?

What is the minimum age for dental implants?

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Going through those teen years with less-than-perfect teeth can feel very challenging. It’s not an easy time of life, and any aesthetic differences can feel isolating. Are dental implants the answer? When is it OK for kids to get dental implants?

Young children and teens can lose teeth due to accidents, poor hygiene or genetic disorders such as ectodermal dysplasia and anodontia. Tooth loss doesn’t just affect appearance though, but also ability to eat and speak clearly. As well as that, after a period without a tooth, the jaw starts to recede and the bone is resorbed into the body. This can cause a change to the shape of the face and also endanger the chance of future successful implants.

But there are problems caused by implants established too early. What are the risks?

What are the problems with implants being fixed too early?

The main problem is that the jaw hasn’t finished growing in young children. The reason dental implants are so successful in adults is because the implant screw integrates with the jawbone itself, making them incredibly strong and stable. This is the very cause of problems in young children.

Because the implant is so strong, it disrupts the normal growth of the jaw. The tooth stays the same while the jaw moves around it. This can mean other teeth are pushed out, it can lead to spaces between teeth, bite issues, and changes to the shape of the jaw[1]. This results in very unattractive teeth and even a disfigured jawbone.

There is also the likelihood that in especially young children, the implant may not integrate in the mouth. Implants in children between the ages of 5 and 12 are only successful 35.7% of the time[2]. This is thought to be due to smaller jaws and other conditions.

[1] https://innovativeoralsurgery.com/what-is-the-minimum-age-for-dental-implants/

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18700377


So when is the right age for dental implants?

The safe time to begin implant surgery is once the jaw has fully matured. In general, there is no perfect age. Everyone grows and matures at different rates. Often, jaw growth continues past puberty, up until the ages of 18, 19 or 20—some people only gain final skeletal maturity in their mid 20’s[1].

[1] https://innovativeoralsurgery.com/what-is-the-minimum-age-for-dental-implants/

How can you tell when the jaw has matured?

Your dentist or surgeon will perform a range of assessments and imaging techniques such as x-rays. They will do this over a period of time to ensure jaw development is complete. When the bone has not grown for a period of six months to a year, then it is considered to be ready for surgery. This is identified by superimposed orthodontic tracings that match with a significant time period in between[1].

[1] https://www.sciencedirect.com/sdfe/pdf/download/eid/1-s2.0-S1042369905000476/first-page-pdf

What are the interim options?

For young people, there are other solutions until the jaw is ready for implants. Depending on the type of problem, bridges or removable dentures can replace the tooth for functionality and appearance. While these are not a perfect solution and come with their own problems and lack of acceptance by the individual, having dental implants too early can cause permanent problems in terms of aesthetics and functionality.

A cautious approach to dental implants is wise. Waiting as long as possible helps ensure a perfect end result, much higher rates of success, and a better long-term result. Contact your dentist to find out the best solution for your child, as everyone has different rates of growth and reach maturity at different ages.