Dentures aren't only for adults who lose their natural teeth as they age. In some cases, children may wear partial dentures. Generally, dentures for children replace primary teeth they've lost until the permanent teeth come in.
Tooth loss often involves the upper front teeth, which creates an aesthetic issue in addition to the potential dental implications. Children can also develop speech and chewing problems when they have teeth missing. But no matter which teeth are missing, a partial denture can make a difference by improving a child's appearance and teeth function.
Common Reasons Why Kids Lose Teeth Prematurely
Falls and Accidents. Kids of all ages are prone to accidents. Traumatic tooth injuries are common, and children sometimes lose teeth when they fall or play sports. Toddlers who are unsteady on their feet when they are first learning to walk can chip, break, or lose a tooth when they fall.
Although younger children are more likely to lose primary teeth through accidents, older kids, too, can suffer traumatic mouth injuries that may lead to the loss of permanent teeth. Yet because even older children aren't done growing yet, permanent solutions for replacing missing teeth are usually put on hold.
Tooth Decay. Cavities are the primary problem affecting children's teeth, according to the Canadian Dental Association. Although dentists prefer not to extract a child's primary teeth unless they have to, serious dental decay may make tooth extractions necessary. What is known as baby bottle tooth decay can occur when a child is allowed to suck on a bottle overnight or at nap time.
Exposing a baby's teeth to the sugars in milk and infant formulas for prolonged periods of time paves the way for bacteria to produce the acids that erode tooth enamel and lead to decay. Like falls, a child's upper front teeth are often affected.
Born with Missing Teeth. Some kids are born with a condition where one or more of their permanent teeth will never form. A dentist may recommend a removable partial denture to replace the missing teeth until jaw growth is complete. Dental implants or fixed bridges may then be placed as a permanent solution.
The Role Partial Dentures Play
As a temporary fix, a dentist may offer the option of fitting a child with partial dentures when one or more primary teeth are lost prematurely. Dentures hold the spaces until the permanent teeth erupt.
Dentures also keep the other teeth in their proper positions. Otherwise, teeth may shift and a permanent tooth can drift into an empty space and not leave enough room for other permanent teeth coming in. This can lead to orthodontic problems, including teeth misalignment and crooked teeth.
Makeup of Dentures for Kids
Dentures for children are usually made of pink acrylic resin. Plastic partial dentures are less expensive and simpler to make than metal dentures. This allows for easier adjustment and replacement at a denture clinic. But as a child grows and more of the permanent teeth come in, a denture may no longer fit and need to be replaced. Depending on a child's age when first fitted for dentures, the denture may have to be replaced often.
Although advances in dental technologies have made plastic dentures lighter and more comfortable to wear, they wear with time. Wear on dentures isn't usually a problem for children who may need to have partial dentures replaced more than once following normal growth spurts.