Typically speaking, kids tend to lose their final baby tooth by the age of 12. In the majority of instances, when a baby tooth falls out, its permanent replacement appears soon afterward. However, if a baby tooth is lost, and an adult one does not follow within a relatively short period of time, there could be an issue with impaction or crowding, or the tooth may simply be missing. To determine the true cause of the problem, it is best to have a dental x-ray taken.
Many parents wonder what should be done if their child is lacking a permanent tooth, and the fact is that there are three routes that can be taken. These include preserving the baby tooth, adding a replacement tooth, or closing the resulting gap via orthodontic treatment. It should be noted that not every patient is eligible for all three possible solutions, because there may be crowding or bite issues that prevent the use of one or more of them.
In some cases, the best option is to keep the baby tooth where it is for as long as possible before ultimately replacing the absent permanent tooth. Baby teeth that are in proper shape can remain for extended periods, but if the tooth has no roots or is suffering from decay, a bridge or implant may be necessary. Using orthodontic procedures to close a gap if there are no bite or crowding problems can be a lengthy, arduous undertaking that may make matters worse. Bone and gum issues and uneven arches can sometimes result from the treatment time and undulations.
When bite or crowding problems exist, closing the space orthodontically after removing the baby tooth may be the optimal course of treatment. This can be true when the lower arch is characterized by an underbite or crowding. When all the teeth erupt in a normal fashion, removing the lower bicuspids can be a viable option. If there is a missing bicuspid, only one additional permanent tooth would need to be taken.
If the upper teeth are characterized by protrusion or crowding, those bicuspids might need to be eliminated. In Patients with congenitally absent bicuspids or upper laterals, it is possible to close the space without the need for implants or bridges. The bottom line is that when bite or crowding issues are not present, efforts to close the space left by missing teeth are not typically recommended.
When it comes to identifying the proper course of treatment for your child with a missing permanent tooth, there is no substitute for a comprehensive examination by an orthodontist. During such a consultation, the bite, degree of crowding, and quality of alignment exhibited by your child’s teeth will be assessed. If it is possible for the space to be closed via orthodontic means, that will be offered. Otherwise, preparations will be made for the eventual replacement of the missing tooth.
If you have questions or concerns about your child’s missing permanent tooth, the team at Kidzania Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics stands prepared to help. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.