Usually, when your child loses a baby tooth, an adult tooth soon emerges to take its place. But what if an adult tooth never comes in to replace one of those baby teeth? This is a condition called anodontia. Some kids are missing just one tooth, and others may be missing several.
Your first step in managing anodontia should be to visit a general dentist and have them take x-rays of your child's mouth to confirm that the adult teeth are missing, and not just delayed. Then, if the teeth are indeed missing, your child will need to see an orthodontist. Here's a look at what the orthodontist will do.
1. Fit your child for a retainer.
Ultimately, your dentist's treatment goal will probably be to give your child dental implants in the spaces left by the missing teeth. But the thing is, children can't get implants until they are in their late teens or early 20s. Implants need to be inserted directly into the jaw bone, and this does not work well if the jaw bone is still growing.
In the meantime, an orthodontist will fit your child for a retainer to ensure their teeth do not shift into the empty spaces. This ensures that when your child is ready for implants, the spaces will still be there for them. Usually, the retainer given to a child with missing teeth will have a couple of false teeth attached to it so that your child looks like they have a full smile.
2. Consider the need for braces.
Depending on how the rest of your child's teeth erupted into the mouth, your child may not need braces. The braces can help if your child's teeth did erupt partially within the spaces that should be used for future implants. Wearing braces is about the same for a child with anodontia as it is for any other child. The orthodontist will keep an eye on your child's smile and let you know when it is a good time to put braces on. Once the braces are in place, your child will often need to wear them for a year or two. After that, they can go back to wearing a retainer until they are ready for implants.
If your child has anodontia, an orthodontist will play an important role in their treatment plan. Make sure you visit a few in your area and find the right practitioner for your needs.