Losing your baby teeth as a kid is so exciting. You wiggle a tooth until it finally falls out, put it under the pillow, and anxiously await the tooth fairy. Maybe you’ll awake to $0.25 or even $1! And at school the next day, you get to tell all your friends about it. The transition from baby teeth to adult teeth is exciting for a child!

But what happens when there is no tooth to replace the baby tooth? Are you in a situation where your child’s adult tooth isn’t growing in? Hypodontia, the developmental absence of one or more teeth, affects between 2 and 8% of the population. Luckily, your family dentist in Butler can provide solutions for your child’s missing tooth.

What Causes Missing Permanent Teeth?

Hypodontia is a developmental anomaly and encompasses the absence of six missing permanent teeth. More than six is called oligodontia, and the lack of all adult teeth is called anodontia.

When your child is missing less than six teeth, it’s usually an inherited trait. The most common missing teeth are the wisdom teeth, premolars, upper lateral incisors, or the lower central incisors. When your child is missing wisdom teeth, it’s not usually an issue as many people get their wisdom teeth removed anyway. But premolars and incisors are a different story. Missing those teeth can cause your child’s teeth to shift, difficulty chewing, difficult speech, and a higher risk of gum disease and tooth injury—not to mention appearances. A gappy smile might be indearing on a child, but as an adult, not so much. 

Most often, your Butler dentist, Dr. Robert Fornalczyk, will recommend one of three solutions. You can choose to preserve the baby tooth, close the gap with orthodontics or replace the tooth.

Solutions for When Your Child Is Missing an Adult Tooth

young girl smiling showing she is missing a couple teethDepending on the tooth that is lost, we may recommend a few different options as not all teeth look alike. For example, the lower central incisors are the bottom front teeth. Closing the gap may not be the best option in that case, but it could be an option for a missing premolar. Always consult with your family dentist, Dr. Fornalczyk, to decide which is the best option for the appearance and functionality of your child’s teeth. 

Preserve the Baby Tooth

Have you ever come across someone who says one of their teeth is still a baby tooth? They’re usually very proud of it, and they should be! Preserving a baby tooth into adulthood isn’t easy, but sometimes it’s the best option. It allows your child to keep their smiles full until it falls out, and hopefully, by that time, they’ll be old enough to get a permanent replacement. 

Your Butler dentist, Dr. Fornalczyk, will consider your child’s occlusion (bite) and teeth alignment. If their bite is off or they have overly crowded teeth, they’ll need orthodontics to fix their smile, and preserving the baby tooth won’t be an option. Likewise, your child won’t be able to keep their baby tooth if the root isn’t intact or if the tooth is unhealthy. 

Close the Gap with Orthodontics

Another option is to close the gap with orthodontics. But this is only recommended if your child’s bite is off or if they have overly crowded teeth that would have necessitated the removal of some teeth anyway. 

We can also use orthodontics to make space for a replacement tooth, such as a dental implant or bridge, when the patient is old enough.

Replace the Tooth

The tooth replacement options for a child are different from those of an adult. Dental implants are the best tooth-replacement option for adults, but, for children, the only option is a flipper or Maryland bridge. Once a dental implant is surgically placed, it’s permanently fixed in the jawbone. So if you are looking to straighten your child’s teeth in the future, a dental implant won’t work. In addition, your child’s jaw isn’t finished developing until 17 or 18 years old. As such, they are not recommended until 18 years old. The flipper or Maryland bridge holds the space until that time. 

Maryland Bridge

A Maryland bridge is similar to a dental bridge for adults. It is a permanent replacement tooth that is held in place by attaching to the teeth next to it. The key difference between an adult bridge and a Maryland dental bridge is the way it’s bonded. They’re connected with thin ceramic wings that are bonded to the backside of the adjacent teeth. This gives your child a full smile and the stability to chew without it feeling loose. It’ll also prevent the other teeth from shifting. Many parents choose this option because it’s cost-effective and doesn’t require any maintenance aside from brushing, flossing, and visiting your Butler dentist, Dr. Fornalczyk, twice a year. 

Flipper or Partial Denture

A flipper is a removable retainer that fits on the roof of your child’s mouth or sits on their jaw. It’s a temporary tooth (or teeth) replacement that is similar to an adult’s partial denture. Flippers are affordable, provide a full smile, stability when chewing, and prevent the surrounding teeth from shifting into the site of the missing tooth. To take care of your flipper, be sure to take it out and brush it and your child’s teeth each morning and evening. And, visit Dr. Fornalczyk in Butler, PA!

Solutions for When Your Child Loses an Adult Tooth

What if your child had all their adult teeth but lost one due to an accident? Dental implants are still not recommended because your child’s jaw continues to develop. Your dentist can either replace the tooth with a flipper, Maryland bridge or try to reattach it. 

Reattach the Tooth

Reattaching the tooth doesn’t always work, but in some cases, it does. The moment your child’s tooth has fallen out, find it and immediately put it back in its original location without wiping it off, as this can remove fibers needed to reattach the tooth. This keeps the tooth healthy and living and doesn’t allow the gum to scar over. Next, make an appointment with Dr. Robert Fornalczyk at Advanced Dentistry of Butler. Be sure to mention your child has lost an adult tooth, and you need an appointment right away. If we can see your child within six hours of losing the tooth, there is a high chance we can reattach it. We can get you in the same day for emergency dental appointments. 

Replace the Tooth

Tooth replacement options for a child who has lost an adult tooth are the same as those who don’t have an adult tooth. A Maryland bridge or flipper are great options to ensure your child has a full, functioning smile until they can get a dental implant if they so choose.

Space Maintainers

Space maintainers are placed by orthodontists when a child prematurely loses a baby tooth. A space maintainer is a temporarily fixed appliance that will hold the space for the adult tooth to come in so that the surrounding teeth do not shift, preventing ideal eruption of the adult tooth. A space maintainer is not a permanent solution but can be a great option for the preservation of space until the adult tooth comes in, or until a decision is made on adult tooth replacement if needed.

Your Family Dentist in Butler, PA

Is your child missing a tooth due to hypodontia or an injury? Call Dr. Bob today to make an appointment. Dr. Bob is a cosmetic and family dentist in Butler who focuses on restoring the functionality and beauty of your child’s smile. Call (724) 282-4436 or make an appointment online today.