I’m wondering if it’s normal for a pediatric dentist to refuse to do dental implants for a teen. My 13-year-old son took out both of his front teeth in a skateboarding accident last week. He’s mostly fine other than the teeth—he was treated in the ER and released on the same day. However, their doctor said we should discuss the possibility of dental implants with his primary dentist and that’s where we’re getting stuck.
I phoned the pediatric dentist to inquire about the process and they said they don’t do dental implants—that it’s better to wait until they’ve matured and to do something like a flipper until they’re adults. Well, my son isn’t irresponsible. He just had an accident. I don’t want him going around without teeth or getting stuck with obviously fake teeth.
Is it normal for kids dentists to refuse implants? If so, should we try a general dentist or some type of specialist?
Sorry to hear about your son’s accident! It sounds like your dentist could have explained things better. Let’s go over the challenges and your options.
The Jawbone Doesn’t Usually Finish Developing Until Age 18+
It’s unlikely your dental office was referring to emotional maturity or responsibility. The jawbone, itself, doesn’t finish growing until the late teens or so. Every child is different, and boys tend to get there a little slower than girls, but most kids aren’t physically ready for implants until around age 18. Growth is an important factor because, if the implant is placed too soon, it can prevent natural teeth from shifting as they normally would and impact the bite. Smiles can wind up crooked and implants may not be in the right position either.
Flippers Are a Good Choice Until Your Son is Ready for a Dental Implant
While your son is still developing, it’s generally better to use temporary and removable appliances to fill the gap his missing teeth left behind. He may need to have it replaced a time or two to accommodate growth while he’s waiting on the dental implant too.
Be Wary of Pediatric Dentists Offering Dental Implants
While some pediatric dentists have no doubt undergone training to place dental implants and may well do a fine job, it’s not something they usually do simply because kids aren’t ready for implants very often. For that reason, most will refer their patients out if they think it’s a possibility. If, by chance, you happen to find one who is willing to do it, find out how often they perform the procedure. You want someone who is regularly placing implants to handle this, not just someone who does it occasionally.
With that in mind, you may want to look for a family dentist who can take over his care or connect with a specialist, such as a periodontist or oral surgeon, who can monitor his growth and let you know when he’s cleared for the implants.
This blog is sponsored by Dr. Raymond Bolt, a general dentist offering implant dentistry and pediatric dental services in Auburn, Alabama.