Dental Implants: Will They Impact Your Child's Participation In Sports?

One common reason why children or young adults need dental implants: sports. Perhaps your teenager had a tooth knocked out while playing his or her favorite sport, and now you're wondering whether it's possible to continue participating in that sport without additional dental issues.

The Basics of Dental Implants

First, let's look at exactly how dental implants work. Your dentist or oral surgeon will craft a fake tooth that resembles the missing one in size and color. It will be attached via a small screw to the bone in the jaw, usually through multiple surgeries to make sure that the screw will set properly.

Your child will be evaluated for an implant and approved if it appears that most of his or her facial growth is complete. Other options, like a bridge or denture, may be advisable if your child may still experience growth in the mouth. You don't want to place an implant and have it crowded improperly by other permanent teeth as the mouth changes. Orthodontic treatment in addition to an implant may also be an option.

When to Wait on Implants

The good news about a dental implant is that, if the underlying bone is healthy, the procedure can be done at any time. You don't need to have it done within a certain window of losing the tooth.

In some sports, there is an increased risk of additional facial trauma that could damage the bone. With an implant, the small screw that attaches the tooth makes the entire area a bit more rigid and easier to harm with full contact.

Your dentist may suggest that you consider other options for cosmetic purposes, and revisit the idea of dental implants after the child's mouth is finished growing or participation in competitive, high-impact sports has ended.

Level of Athletic Participation

Another consideration is how involved your child is in sports, and which sport he or she plays. For the casual high school athlete, a return to sports is possible after a few weeks of healing after an implant.

One key to continued participation is to use proper mouth protection, usually in the form of a custom-fitted device. Your dentist can advise about external mouth guards or other mouth protection to keep the implant -- and other teeth -- from contact. Several new types of materials on the market can improve comfort and protection for the face and mouth.

For some sports, like hockey, the risk of additional injuries even with facial protection is high. If your child is at a high level in a high-contact sport, your dentist may advise that you consider waiting on the implant until sports participation at this level has ended. This is not just a cosmetic concern; injuries to the face and mouth can damage the underlying bone and make implants difficult or impossible to retain.

Your athletic child can definitely get a dental implant following the loss of a tooth, but delaying an implant may be a wise decision based on his or her age and level of athletic participation. (For more information, contact Prospect Periodontal & Implant Center or another company)