The teenage period is that time when one is at the bridge between childhood and adulthood. Teenagers are aged between 13 and 19 years, and face real concerns on a daily basis as this is the most awkward growth stage of their lives. During this time, teens are exposed to some overwhelming external and internal struggles. They go through, and are expected to cope with hormonal changes, puberty, social and parental forces, work and school pressures, and so on. Many teens feel misunderstood.
Psychological issues like self-esteem and body Image, stress, bullying, depression, cyber addiction, drinking and smoking, underage sex and teenage pregnancy and most importantly, peer pressure and competition are common among teenagers. As teens continue to grow and change during their pivotal teenage years, they can become self-conscious about their bodies. They are constantly bombarded by the media’s ideal body. These images are more often than not computer enhanced, giving unrealistic ideas of what a teenage body should look like. These messages often convince teens that they are too fat, too skinny, too tall, too short, etc. Many will also become overly aware of imperfections such as blemishes, pimples or extra weight, or missing tooth, especially if it is in a noticeable place.
What causes tooth loss in teenagers?
The commonest cause of missing teeth in teenagers is from tooth decay or dental caries. Other causes of missing tooth include blunt trauma or force to the mouth and teeth like in accidents and failure of dental procedure like pulp surgery. A missing tooth for a teenager can affect the smile, and can lead to loss of self-esteem.
Why should teenagers missing teeth be replaced?
An accidental tooth loss can harm the supporting bone in two ways. Firstly, the impact of the accident itself can damage the bony socket. Secondly, bone can also suffer from the long-term absence of a tooth. Bone has a growth cycle in which older cells dissolve and new cells form to take their place. The force generated by teeth when we eat or chew helps stimulate this growth. Without stimulation, as with a missing tooth, the bone may not grow at a healthy rate. In time, it could lose some of its volume and density and not be able to support an implant.
Other reasons why a missing tooth should be replaced include:
To avoid the shifting and loosening of other teeth: When every tooth is in the mouth, neatly in a row, they can keep each other lined up and stable. If a tooth is missing a tooth however, there is the possibility of teeth shifting. Teeth can drift out of place, leading to a change in one’s bite, potential gum disease and possible tooth decay.
To avoid facial change: loss of even a back tooth can cause the mouth to shift, potentially making the facial muscles over the part of the face to droop, making the person look older.
Temporomandibular joint disorder: These muscles on the side of the head that help in chewing and rotate the joint. Changes to these muscles and the system they are connected to can result in a lot of physical pain.
What is the solution for missing tooth for a teenager?
The ideal solution for a missing tooth is a dental implant. A dental implant replaces the whole tooth, including the root, to merge durability with a life-like appearance.
However, because the jaw of a teenager is still developing, any implant that is put would gradually become misaligned as the jaw grows. It is best to install an implant later after full jaw development in early adulthood.
In cases like this, there are some temporary solutions in place to buy some time for the teenager till they reach adulthood. One option is to put a removable partial denture (RPD), prosthetic (false) teeth set in an acrylic base that mimics gum tissue at the locations of the missing teeth. RPDs, which stay in place by way of metal clips that fit over other teeth, are easy to wear and maintain, and are very versatile.
The other option is to perform a bonded bridge. A bonded bridge has strips of dental material extending from both sides of its back that are bonded to the back of the adjacent natural teeth.it is a modification of the traditional bridge and can buy time for the teenager till they reach adulthood. However, not every teen is a viable candidate for a bonded bridge. Issues like how the teeth fit together and if the teen has a tooth grinding habit could be strikes against this option and the teenager should also be willing to adhere to good oral hygiene habits.
So if you have a teenager who has a missing tooth, contact your dentist to make an appointment and explore your options.