adult woman smiling with teethOne of the benefits of dental implants is that almost everyone is a candidate for the procedure. However, there is one important restriction for dental implants: you have to be old enough. Getting dental implants when you’re too young can lead to numerous problems, from losing the implant to long-lasting disfigurement.

So how do you know if you’re too young? It depends on your jaw growth. When your jaw finishes growing, you’re old enough for dental implants. That age varies widely. The Detroit implant dentists at Rochester Advanced Dentistry will carefully evaluate your bone growth to make sure you’re ready for dental implants. 

Why Bone Growth Can Be Bad for Dental Implants

Dental implants are the tooth replacement that is most like your natural teeth. However, dental implants are not exactly like your natural teeth. Dental implants anchor directly to your bone. After your Detroit implant dentist places the implant, your bone bonds to it in a process called osseointegration. 

Natural teeth attach to your bone, but not directly. The bone completely encases the tooth root, but there’s a small space between the bone and the tooth root. The tooth root connects to the bone with a tough but flexible tissue called the periodontal ligament. When you bite and chew, clench your teeth, or put pressure on your teeth for other reasons, it causes the periodontal ligament to stretch and/or compress. 

The periodontal ligament not only gives your teeth a little extra cushion but it also helps your teeth move through your jawbone. When the periodontal ligament stretches or compresses, it signals the body to reshape the bone around the tooth. While all bones in the body reshape under pressure, this arrangement makes it especially easy for teeth to move through the jawbone–it helps make orthodontic treatment possible. This ease of movement is critical for your jaw development. Unlike other structures in your body, your teeth don’t grow or change in size and shape. They need to be able to move through your jawbone to fill the available space as it increases. 

Since dental implants don’t have a periodontal ligament, they can’t move so easily through the jawbone. Instead, they can experience numerous complications. 

Dental Implant Complications from Bone Growth

Your Detroit implant dentists want to avoid the potential complications that come from placing implants in growing bone, such as:

  • Implant falling out
  • Buried implant
  • Intrusion into your sinuses
  • Crooked implants
  • Stunted jaw development

In areas where the body is naturally removing bone, it might remove so much bone around dental implants that the implants can fall out. On the other hand, the body might bury implants in areas where it is building bone. A partially buried implant could be more than a cosmetic problem–it might lead to periodontal infection and could make it hard to replace a dental crown or bridge. 

Another problem is that as the body is reshaping the sinuses, it might remove so much material that it exposes the implant inside the sinus cavity. This could lead to serious infection. The infection could lead to implant failure or might become more serious, even life-threatening. 

Since your body can’t guide implants easily through the jawbone, they can end up getting crooked. This is similar to but can be worse than, naturally crooked teeth. In addition to being more crooked, dental implants won’t respond to orthodontic treatment like natural teeth do. 

Finally, dental implants might interfere with the growth of your jawbone. This is especially true if you have two or more implants connected to a dental bridge. 

How to Tell If You’re Too Young for Dental Implants

In general, girls’ jaws might have finished growing by age 15, whereas boys typically don’t finish until age 18. However, this rule is not reliable enough to guide placement. Instead, we will have to make sure growth is complete. 

If you see your doctor regularly, they might be monitoring your growth and can give you a sense of if you’re possibly finished growing. However, your Detroit implant dentist will want to evaluate your jaw growth specifically. We will take x-rays of your jaw six months apart. If your jaw hasn’t grown in that time, we will know that you’re finished growing and you are likely a good candidate for dental implants. 

Alternatives If You’re Too Young for Dental Implants

So how can you replace a lost tooth if you’re too young for dental implants? There are a few options. 

The most common option is a removable partial denture. A removable partial denture has some drawbacks. It is less attractive and less functional than other options. It’s also less comfortable and less durable than other choices. However, it does offer one major advantage: it causes less interference with the growth of your jaw and the development of your other teeth. 

Another possible option is a dental bridge, which might be a cantilevered bridge or a traditional dental bridge. 

A cantilevered dental bridge uses just one tooth to support a replacement tooth. This bridge has the advantage of not interfering with bone growth, but it might put the supporting tooth at risk. The tooth now has to do the work of two teeth, and it experiences uneven forces. 

A traditional dental bridge uses two neighboring teeth to support a replacement tooth between them. This divides the biting forces more evenly, so there’s less risk to your natural teeth. By linking multiple teeth together, though, there’s a risk that this bridge could interfere with jaw growth.

Both types of dental bridges normally require that we put a crown on one or more teeth. To do that, we have to remove your natural tooth enamel, which is irreplaceable. 

Are You a Candidate for Dental Implants in Detroit?

Although this blog can give you a general idea of why you might be too young for dental implants, the only way to know for sure is to talk to a Detroit implant dentist. 

To schedule an appointment at Rochester Advanced Dentistry in Rochester, near Rochester Municipal Park, please call (248) 656-2020 or use our online form today.