If you have a teenage son or daughter who is unhappy with the appearance of their smile, then you may wonder if they are old enough for cosmetic dental procedures. The truth is that some cosmetic dental procedures can be performed on teenagers with great, lasting results, while others should not be performed until your child's mouth and jaw have stopped growing. Read on to learn if your teen can get those dental veneers or dental implants they want or if it is best to wait a few years.
Are Dental Veneers a Good Idea for Teens?
For many decades, the standard treatment for teenagers and pre-teens with crooked teeth has been braces or invisible teeth aligners. However, more and more teenagers are now getting dental veneers. While braces or invisible teeth aligners will always be best for children with extensive dental problems, there are times when dental veneers can be a good option for teenagers.
If your teenager only has one or two slightly crooked teeth or just a few teeth that are crowded, then these are considered small issues that dental veneers can correct. Many teenagers don't want to wear braces or teeth aligners for months or years to correct just a tooth or two, not surprisingly, and it makes sense to allow them get get dental veneers if you feel it is the right choice for them, as well.
It is important for both you and your child to know that veneers typically don't last forever, and if your teen gets them now, there is a good chance they will need to be replaced at least once (or more) later in life. In the end, the best way to find out if dental veneers are a good idea for your teen or if it really is best to have them get those braces or clear aligners is to consult with a cosmetic dentist and see what they think.
Are Teenagers Ready for Dental Implants?
Nothing can destroy any person's confidence in their smile more than missing teeth can. Teenagers who play contact sports are especially prone to having teeth knocked loose. No teenager wants to wear a denture, so you may wonder if your teenager is old enough for a dental implant.
The good news is that now is a great time to start preparing your child's mouth for a dental implant, but the bad news is that if their jaw bone growth has not ended yet, the actual implant will have to wait. To begin preparing your child's mouth for an implant later, have your dentist place a small bone graft called a ridge preservation graft in the bone right above the lost tooth. A ridge preservation graft keeps your child's natural jaw from reabsorbing the bone that is not currently needed to support a tooth, and the graft encourages new growth of any bone tissue that may have already been absorbed. If you neglect this vital step, your child may need more invasive and costly bone grafting performed later before they get their dental implant, and that will make them have to wait even longer for the implant.
When can they get the implant? Your dentist will have to monitor the growth of your child's jaw closely to determine when placement can occur. They can do this by X-raying your child's mouth every six months. When no growth has occurred between two X-rays, then that signals that your child's jaw growth has stopped, and they are likely ready for the implant. Some teenagers are ready for implants in their late teens, while others must wait until they are 20 or even 23.
In the meantime, your child's dentist can fit them with a removable one-tooth denture, or place a temporary bridge, called a bonded bridge, that can be removed when they are ready for the dental implant. Unlike a typical dental bridge, a bonded bridge requires no filing of the healthy teeth adjacent to the missing tooth. It is instead a simple false tooth that is bonded to the adjacent teeth to hold it in place.
If your teenager is unhappy with their smile, then there are some cosmetic dental procedures they can have performed at their age, but some they will have to wait for. For more information, talk with an experienced dentist at a clinic like TLC Dental Center.