Kids and Space Maintainers
Primary (baby) teeth are important for your child’s dental health. They help her eat and speak and serve as space holders in your child’s mouth to ensure that permanent teeth grow in straight. Baby teeth are also important for the jawbone and mouth muscles to develop normally.
If a child’s baby tooth comes out too soon due to accident or tooth decay, problems may occur. The neighboring teeth may crowd out the space where the permanent tooth should come in or cause the tooth to come in crooked. A space maintainer may be recommended by your Dr. T. to reduce the risk of these problems.
What is a Space Maintainer?
A space maintainer is a dental appliance that fits to the space where the primary tooth is missing. The space maintainer is made specifically for children and can be made of metal, plastic or resin. Depending, there are some space maintainers that are removable and some that are less visible. For one of the types of space maintainers, a band or crown is fitted over one of the adjacent teeth. A wire loop braced against the adjacent tooth is made custom for every patient to hold to space open. Another type of space maintainers has a set of bands and wires that are fitted into the arch of your child’s mouth.
Although your child may be fully aware of the space maintainer, after a couple of days their mouth should feel completely normal. In order to protect these small appliances, it is important to have your child avoid gum or hard foods, avoid pulling or pushing the appliance with his fingers or tongue and to keep the area clean with brushing and flossing.
Placing Space Maintainers at the Office?
Space maintainers are either fixed (cemented into place) or removable. There are different types of space maintainers for different situations and locations in the mouth. Dr. T. will have review with you the number and type of space maintainers needed. The procedure is very simple and routine, and can be completed in one or two office visits, depending upon the treatment needed.
Once the space maintainer has been created or placed, it make take a few days for your child to get used to the appliance. Carefully monitor your child to make sure they are wearing it, if the maintainer is removable, and ensure they are following a proper at-home oral hygiene routine.
Regular Visits for Monitoring
Once your child is used to the space maintainer, your child will need to return to our office to be monitored regularly by Dr. T. to make sure that the development and growth of the new tooth or teeth is on track and following the path that the space maintainer has allowed. Once the adult tooth or teeth are growing in properly, the space maintainer can be removed.