Ask the Expert: What Should I Do if My Teen is Missing a Tooth?

Whether your teen was born with missing teeth or has lost teeth due to an injury, you may be wondering what your options are to replace his or her pearly whites. Here, a  prosthodontist offers expert advice on dental implants for children.


smiling teen boyIf you have a teenager who has a missing tooth or has teeth with poor aesthetics, it would be worth your while to have a consultation with a prosthodontist. Teeth can be missing due to a sports injury or other traumatic injuries. Teeth can also be missing congenitally (from birth). Common missing teeth are the upper laterals (the smaller teeth adjacent to the two front teeth). Your child’s self-esteem is very important, not to mention the importance of the function of their teeth, especially as they move toward adulthood and have many years ahead of them. Whereas years ago there was no option and a removable appliance was often worn—or healthy teeth had to be cut down to support a missing tooth—today implants are the most desirable way to replace missing teeth.

What’s the first step? It’s recommended that a specialist be seen. Thorough and sophisticated measures are taken to ensure the longevity and aesthetics of the implant. The prosthodontist is a highly trained specialist with an advanced degree whose skills are especially suited to such matters. A thorough evaluation is done to see if your child is a candidate for implants. Depending on the jaw growth, the specialist will determine if your child is ready for implants. A thorough evaluation is done to examine the bite (occlusion) and determine the projected aesthetics. There are multiple steps involved to achieve the best results.

A team approach, with a prosthodontist at the helm choreographing the planning stages and treatment, is the path we recommend. Having one person coordinating the treatment makes it easier for the patient and parents involved. The oral surgeon or periodontist places the implants as guided by the prosthodontist. An oral surgeon or periodontist should not be the first to determine the needs of the patient as they are not involved in the aesthetics (cosmetics) or bite (occlusion) afterwards. All the practitioners, however, work as a team, so your teenager can best benefit from the results and follow-up care.

In short, an initial consultation is important to help provide you with the best alternatives and choices and to determine if your teenager is a candidate for little to no out-of-pocket expenses for the entire treatment based on available insurance and treatment direction.


Dr. Ronald P. Knoll, D.M.D, M.S. is a prosthodonist on Long Island with offices in Plainview and Lynbrook; he practices with his wife, Dr. Carole Horowitz, a family and cosmetic dentist. Dr. Knoll graduated from Boston University School of Dental Medicine and was awarded an M.S. degree in Prosthodontics from the University of Michigan. He served as an assistant clinical professor at N.Y.U Dental School and helped to originate the department of dentistry at the Gurwin Geriatric Center on LI.