Space maintainers are exactly what their name implies. They are placeholders to keep space for incoming teeth when a primary tooth is lost early, or your child needs an extraction.
If a tooth is lost or extracted before its permanent successor is ready to erupt, other teeth may work their way in or around that open space instead of where they should be.
Space maintainers act as a placeholder for the permanent tooth that has not yet made its way into its new home.
How Do I Know If My Child Needs A Space Maintainer?
Every case will be unique, so it is best to consult your dentist or orthodontist for his or her recommendation. Some instances will not require any action at all, but it’s best to ask a professional if you are concerned.
If your child does lose a tooth prematurely and proper space is not allowed for the permanent tooth, it can cause crowding or shifting that could require further orthodontic treatment.
The work needed to repair permanent teeth that shift improperly can be both a costly and lengthy repair.
How does a space maintainer work?
A space maintainer is a custom fit appliance made of either plastic or metal that holds the space of the tooth prematurely lost. By occupying the space while the permanent tooth will grow, it prevents the other teeth from moving in to the newly opened space.
Orthodontic work for teeth that grow out of line can be costly and time consuming. Implementing a space maintainer is a much cheaper and easier procedure if your child does have a spacing issue.
Space maintainers can be removable or fixed to surrounding teeth. The most common type of space maintainer is called the band and loop. A band is fitted around the tooth behind the vacant space. From there, the maintainer is looped around the gum resting on the tooth in front of the space.
This procedure will keep that space, allowing for the new permanent tooth to grow into its proper place.
Caring for your child’s space maintainer:
It might take a few days for your child to get comfortable with the appliance. You will want to be mindful of the types of foods you give your child, being sure to avoid chewy or sugary foods, gum and candy.
It is equally as important to make sure the area is getting properly cleaned to avoid plaque buildup. Your dentist will instruct you on best practices when brushing and flossing the area.
Once the permanent tooth has erupted, then the maintainer can be removed. You will want to make a follow-up appointment for x-rays to check on the progress of your child’s treatment.
Have questions? Give us a call!
If you have any questions or concerns regarding space maintainers, or for any of your child’s dental health, call us to schedule an appointment today!
Creve Coeur Office – 314-567-1122 St. Charles Office – 636-946-5225