I’m 16 and still have my baby canine teeth. Can I get dental implants?

Dr. Hall,
I’m 16 and I currently still have two baby teeth – my two top canines. Last year I found out that my two bottom canine were baby teeth as well, and had them removed. It was very embarrassing but luckily my right permanent canine was behind my baby tooth and over a year is somewhat in the regular spot but, my other canine tooth on the bottom(left) was removed and my permanent tooth is growing far behind and close to my lateral incisor.

I don’t know what to do, it is very embarrassing to have an empty spot in my teeth. My top baby canine teeth are still here though, I had to go to the dentist to remove them but I don’t want to have gaps in my smile, especially since I will be taking my senior pictures soon. I also don’t want to remove them because I’m scared that like my bottom canine they will grow far behind. What should I do? Are dental implants a possible solution to this?
– Cathryn from California

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Cathryn,
Are you having regular dental checkups? And if you are, why hasn’t your regular dentist addressed this? This is not an uncommon problem, and dentists are taught in dental school about how to address it. Knowing what to do requires good x-rays of your entire jaw.

If you still have your baby canine teeth at age 16, the most likely reason is that your permanent canine teeth are impacted. In order to do the right thing with your baby canine teeth, you need to know about the permanent teeth. Where are they? Are they impacted? Are they in fact behind your other permanent teeth? Or are they in front of them? And if they are impacted, then an orthodontist should be able to help get them erupted into the correct positions.

There can be permanent teeth that never form, but it is very rare for those to be the canine teeth. Lateral incisors are one of the most common teeth to not form, as well as lower premolars and sometimes wisdom teeth. When you still don’t see the permanent canine teeth at age 16, it’s usually because their eruption is blocked. The treatment for that is to help them erupt, usually by making a surgical opening in the tissue to expose the tooth and then possibly to attach a bracket to the tooth and help it erupt using braces. Though sometimes surgically exposing the canine is all that is needed to help it erupt.

If there isn’t room enough for the canine tooth to erupt into its normal position, then that is a question for the orthodontist to address. Since the canine tooth is an anchor tooth and an important part of your smile, it is usually best to remove the first premolar to make space for the canine and then straighten the remaining teeth.

Replacing the canines with dental implants won’t work if your permanent canine teeth are impacted, because the implants will run into those teeth. You can only place dental implants if there are no teeth under the surface where you’re putting them.

Having said all that, there is no rush to take out the baby teeth. Wait until after your senior pictures, for goodness sake. I hope your dentist wouldn’t be that insensitive.

I hope this is helpful.

Dr. Hall

About David A. Hall

Dr. David Hall was one of the first 40 accredited cosmetic dentists in the world. He practiced cosmetic dentistry in Iowa, and in 1990 earned his accreditation with the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. He is now president of Infinity Dental Web, a company in Mesa, Arizona that does complete Internet marketing for dentists.

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