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Missing Teeth and Their Oral Health Implications

Posted on June 4, 2021

The American Association of Orthodontics recommends seeing a professional whenever you have orthodontic problems. But ideally, it shouldn’t be later than age seven. One problem we sometimes see in children is missing teeth.

Missing teeth can cause a wide range of problems including misalignment or crooked teeth. Additionally, your child may experience difficulty chewing food and speaking properly. They also have an effect on a child’s self-esteem. Here is a detailed look at some of these and other problems associated with missing teeth as well as the implications.

1. Missing Teeth and Malocclusions in Children

If your little one is missing a permanent tooth, a children’s dentist may recommend a replacement implant. An orthodontist may place a dental appliance in the gap to allow for other teeth to emerge.

An orthodontic device will keep the gap open and prevent the other teeth from shifting. It can serve as a placeholder until a restorative procedure is performed.

2. Teeth Shifting

If your child loses their baby teeth prematurely, a children’s dentist will examine the teeth and gums. Without proper treatment, the teeth on either side will start to move into the gap. As a result, the child will develop issues with the bite and jaw alignment.

Sometimes, it is not that the teeth are missing, but they failed to emerge from the gums. It is often a result of an obstruction, such as a nearby tooth moving into the gap.

3. Bone Resorption

Since physical stimuli strengthen the jawbone, missing teeth cause the erosion of bone mass. The most common cause of jawbone resorption is tooth extraction. Bone loss in children has a relatively high prevalence of approximately 8%.

Even though implants can address the loss of bone mass, placement could be complicated if the condition is severe. Sometimes a pediatric dentist may decide to place implants immediately after an extraction.

Fixed Bridges and Dental Implants

To fix missing teeth, a children’s dentist may either use dental bridges or implants. Bridges are devices that can sit on the gap with a missing tooth. They are a good option when the little one is missing multiple teeth.

A dental implant may also be placed surgically onto the tooth. It is a more permanent option compared to bridges. However, it is only recommended for teens whose teeth have stopped growing.

Braces and Missing Teeth

For patients with tooth misalignments, a dentist may recommend braces first before dental implants. That is because implants cannot shift into place like a regular tooth. The orthodontist will leave a space for the device after the teeth move into position.

However, the patient’s oral health history may also determine the treatment option. If the young one has other dental problems such as overcrowding, a children’s dentist and an orthodontist will address those issues first.

Children and adults tend to have unique dental health requirements due to the difference in physiology. The little ones are more vulnerable to cavities, but they have challenges adhering to an oral hygiene routine. A kid’s dentist understands the characteristic problems children face. It is advisable to take your child to an experienced children’s dentist.

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