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Dental Implants: A Guide for Seniors

If you are a senior considering dental implants, you may have to worry about issues other dental patients don't have to think about. For example, you may need more time to recover after receiving your implants. My name is Jodi, and I've been working with seniors for years. I decided to create this blog to help the seniors I can't meet in person. In this space, I'm going to post entries on everything related to dental implants and seniors. From tips on flossing implants after arthritis has claimed some of your dexterity, to guiding you through the implants-vs-dentures debate, this blog is designed for you. Thanks for reading. I hope you find what you need!



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Dental Implants: A Guide for Seniors

Forever Young (Teeth): Does It Matter If Adult Teeth Never Develop?

by Jimmy Carter

As everyone knows, humans only get two sets of teeth. Some animals, such as elephants and kangaroos, continually regrow teeth as needed (making these creatures polyphyodont). Humans are diphyodont—meaning that the first set of teeth (called baby, primary, or deciduous teeth) is progressively replaced by a second set of teeth (called adult, secondary, or permanent teeth). But what if your own status as a true diphyodont is in question? For some people, that first set of teeth is all that will ever grow.

Why Baby Teeth Are Retained

There are many causes why baby teeth are not replaced with adult teeth. It can have a hereditary, genetic cause. It may also be due to trauma, illness, or infection during odontogenesis (embryonic tooth development). Sometimes the precise cause remains unknown. It's not always a case of retaining an entire set of baby teeth. Some baby teeth may be replaced by the corresponding adult teeth, whereas others may not. This leads to a permanent state of mixed dentition, which is a combination of primary and secondary teeth. Mixed dentition is normal in children as their primary teeth are being replaced, but it's usually a temporary stage of tooth development. 

It's Not a Major Concern

Whether you've retained all your baby teeth, or have mixed dentition, you don't necessarily need to be concerned. Your case is a dental abnormality, but it's not exactly a serious one. If your retained baby teeth are very well cared for, they can serve you for many years, if not indefinitely. However, it's important to be vigilant, allowing you and your dentist to address any issues as early as possible.

Seeing Your Dentist

Most people see their dentist twice a year, but an adult with retained baby teeth may need to go more often. This isn't conclusive and is generally at your dentist's discretion and recommendation. You may require more frequent diagnostic testing (x-rays) to ensure that the roots of your retained baby teeth remain strong and vital. The visible portions of the teeth may also require attention.

Some Reinforcement

To ensure the longevity of your retained baby teeth, they may require some reinforcement at some stage. This isn't complicated or invasive, but your teeth might benefit from porcelain dental crowns to make them last as long as possible. This can also be advantageous if your retained baby teeth are noticeably small, as crowns can be configured to increase the overall size of a tooth. Beyond that, retained baby teeth won't necessarily need extra attention. 

Retained baby teeth are unusual, but don't automatically pose a problem. However, the condition means you need to be extra diligent with your oral hygiene and visits to your dentist to make sure that these teeth remain strong and healthy.