If your child has had a tooth removed or lost a tooth earlier than the average, you should know of an oral appliance called a space maintainer. Space maintainers serve the purpose of holding space for a child’s permanent teeth to erupt if your child has had a tooth removed or lost a tooth too early. Their use in the early years can prevent costly problems down the road.
Candidates for Space Maintainers
If your child loses a baby tooth too early (before the permanent tooth is ready to emerge) then a space maintainer might be an option to help. It will hold the space left open by the missing tooth so that there is enough room for the adult tooth to enter the mouth. Children might also require space maintainers if they have primary teeth pulled as a result of dental decay. Regardless of which scenario has unfolded for your child, you should understand that a space maintainer will support your little one’s dental health.
Space Maintainer Details
Space maintainers are made by dentists and orthodontists with either a metal or acrylic material. It can be fabricated so it is a removable or a fixed appliance that will be placed in your child’s mouth. The fixed variety comes in different kinds: unilateral band and loop, unilateral band and loop with a distal shoe if the tooth lost does not have a tooth behind it, or a bilateral space maintainer for the upper or lower arch which holds space for teeth on both sides of the mouth if teeth are lost on both sides.
The space maintainer will minimize crowding issues as baby teeth are lost. This way, future orthodontic treatment may not be required as your little one’s teeth will have enough open space to shift into. It is worth noting that space maintainers are not necessary for every single child who prematurely loses a tooth. Be sure to discuss this option with your child’s dentist to determine if it is appropriate for your child.
Getting Accustomed to the Space Maintainer
It might take your child a few days to get used to wearing the new space maintainer. Both the fixed and removable varieties are foreign objects that the mouth will take some time to get used to. Be sure to clean the space maintainer to prevent negative impacts on the teeth and gum tissue health.
You will need to bring your child back to your dentist’s office regularly so that he can gauge the progress of treatment with the use of the new space maintainer. If you have any questions, feel free to give our office a call!