What You Should Do If Your Child Appears to Be Missing One of their Permanent Teeth
Usually, children will lose the last of their baby teeth just before they reach their teenage years. It's a natural process, where each outgoing tooth is replaced almost right away by a permanent one. However, sometimes this does not progress as planned and the permanent tooth may not appear. If this is the case with your child, what do you need to do next?
Why Do Problems Arise?
There are a number of reasons why a permanent tooth could be missing in this situation. For example, the other permanent teeth that surround it may be a little too crowded, meaning that it is not able to erupt through the gums. In some cases, the tooth could be impacted, which mean that it is essentially moving in the wrong direction and unable to break through. Alternatively, the permanent replacement could be missing completely.
What to Look for
When you take your child to the orthodontist, an x-ray will typically cast light on the situation and give the dentist several options to move forward. One of these is to make use of the "outgoing" baby tooth, for as long as possible. Another option is to replace the missing tooth with an implant, while the third solution is to close the space using a specific form of treatment.
Sometimes, a baby tooth can be allowed to remain in place for an indefinite period of time. This will depend on its condition, which the dentist will be able to advise. Most dentists will choose to replace it with an implant, as it can be quite a long process to close the space using orthodontic treatment. However, if crowding is an issue then it may be the best course forward.
Assessing All the Options
Many factors will need to be taken into account. The dentist will want to have a look at how the child's bite is developing and see whether that could do with some modification. Each tooth will be accounted for to see whether the expected number is present and whether or not some may need to be removed.
Early Intervention Is Best
This is why it's a good idea to visit the dentist regularly as the child is growing and as the baby teeth start to fall away, to be replaced by the permanent ones. If regular exams are part of your schedule, then early x-rays will usually be able to detect any problems down the road and solutions can be suggested to take this into account.