It's logical to think of dentures as being strictly for the elderly. But of course, dentures can be used to replace missing permanent teeth at any age, if the patient doesn't wish to receive an alternative fixed restoration, such as a dental implant. Dentures can be vital for children, too, as parents of children diagnosed with ectodermal dysplasia will soon learn. 

The Condition

Ectodermal dysplasia is an abnormality of the human ectoderm. The condition is hereditary, and its severity can vary significantly. In extreme cases, there can be abnormal development of the cranial-facial region (the shape and size of the skull and face). These cases are typically obvious at birth. However, many signs may not present themselves until later in childhood, with certain developmental milestones either being disrupted or not occurring at all. These symptoms can include an anomaly in hair growth, with hair being sparse and generally irregular. Fingernails and toenails can be excessively thick and distorted. Teeth may fail to grow or may develop out of alignment. Teeth that have developed can be improperly shaped, and can often be lacking protective dental enamel.

Tooth Replacement 

Children diagnosed with ectodermal dysplasia are often referred to pediatric dental specialists for assistance. Treatment typically involves a tooth-replacement system that provides a functional bite until your child has reached full physical maturity (generally in their late teens), at which point, a permanent solution becomes possible. In the intervening years, your child may need dentures.

Full or Partial Dentures

Your child might require a full set of dentures, but partial dentures can also be possible when some teeth have erupted and grown to full size, provided there are no developmental irregularities that might affect their functionality. When the development of the teeth (shape, size, alignment) is an issue, these teeth may be extracted, with your child then receiving a full set of dentures. 

Into Adulthood

Your child will need multiple sets of dentures throughout their childhood and adolescence. Like clothing and footwear, they will outgrow their dentures. Developmental abnormalities of the teeth may continue through the period when permanent teeth are expected to erupt. These teeth may still develop, and yet the same issues may still be encountered. Provided the adult teeth develop at the correct alignment (with a standard root structure), any issues with shape and enamel deficiency can be corrected with dental crowns fitted over the teeth. Dental implants become possible when the jaw has reached its full size. These may be individual implants or a set of implants used to support a dental bridge (permanently attached dentures). 

Dentures offer a practical solution for children diagnosed with ectodermal dysplasia, although they are only likely to serve a purpose until your child becomes eligible for a permanent dental prosthesis. For more information, contact a local pediatric dental specialist service, such as Dentistry For Children & Adolescents.