A child’s little teeth have many big responsibilities. Biting, chewing, speaking correctly, and guiding permanent teeth into the right position In some instances, an injury or dental disease can cause these little teeth to fall out prematurely. This is where space maintainers comes into play.
Space Maintainer Unilateral from Guiga Orthodontics on Vimeo.
If a child’s loses a baby tooth, the teeth on either side may invade the space where a permanent tooth is supposed to emerge. Eruption may occur out of position.
In severe cases, the area may become completely blocked, which will result in crowded teeth or crooked teeth. If a tooth is lost, a specially-designed dental appliance may be utilized to keep the area open so that no complications occur regarding the eruption of the permanent tooth. This is called a “space maintainer”.
What is a Space Maintainer?
A space maintainer is a special type of dental appliance that is composed of either plastic or metal. They may be cemented in, which is referred to as a “fixed” device, or they may be removable. The purpose and intent of these devices are to aid in developing an optimal bite within the child’s mouth. In doing so, this may help avoid the child having to get braces later in life. The following outlines details about fixed and removable space maintenance devices:
- Fixed – These types of dental devices are simply cemented onto the teeth that are on either side of the space where they are placed. For kids that are young, these are ideal because of the fact that they are less likely to break off, cannot be misplaced, and will not be played with.
- Removable – These dental devices favor retainers. In some instances, a fake tooth is placed on the unit. This type of device is most often reserved for kids that are a bit older because it requires special care. Additionally, older children are less likely to misplace these appliances.
How Long is Space Maintenance Required?
The amount of time that space maintenance is required will depend heavily upon the age of the child. They may end up wearing the dental device for quite some time; however, never in a permanent manner. When the permanent teeth start the eruption process, the dental device is typically removed. In many instances, these devices are removed when the adjacent teeth become loose.
How Should Space Maintainers be Cared for?
If your child requires space maintenance, there are several steps you can take to ensure that the dental device is appropriately cared for.
First, all sticky and extremely chewy foods should be avoided. Next, kids should be told to not push, pull, or play with the maintainer with their tongue or their hands. Brushing and flossing should be continued.
You should schedule appointments regularly with your child’s pediatric dentist.