Baby teeth aren’t just for helping your child to learn to chew and talk properly. Each tooth helps guide the permanent tooth waiting to come through and replace it, and if baby teeth are lost too soon there’s an increased risk that the adult teeth will erupt incorrectly or in the wrong position. The adjacent teeth can also drift in to the open space created by the loss of the baby tooth, and as a result there might not be sufficient room for the permanent tooth to erupt properly.
Why to Use Space Maintainers?
Baby teeth can be lost due to dental trauma, or they may need to be extracted due to severe tooth decay. Some children are missing baby teeth, and there are other conditions and diseases that can lead to milk teeth being lost too soon.
If this affects your child then our pediatric dentist may suggest the use of a space maintainer. Space maintainers helps keep the correct amount of space open in the mouth until the adult tooth is ready to come through.
Different Types of Space Maintainers
Space maintainers can be made from metal or plastic, or a combination of both. Some are designed to be removable, while others are cemented onto the teeth adjacent to the gap in the mouth.
Removable Space Maintainers
Removable space maintainers will often use artificial plastic teeth or plastic blocks to fill in the gaps that need to remain open. This type of space maintainer can be useful if the gap in the mouth is highly visible, and are often used for older children who are able to follow instructions on how to care for this appliance.
Types of Fixed Space Maintainers
There are several different types of fixed space maintainers, and the simplest is a band and loop maintainer that is constructed out of stainless steel and wire. It has a band that is fixed around the tooth adjacent to the space, and the wire loop is attached to this band. The wire loop protrudes across the space and will touch the tooth on the other side of the gap, holding the space open.
Lingual Arch Space Maintainer
A lingual arch space maintainer is used when the back teeth have been lost on both sides of the lower jaw. Bands are attached around the tooth on either side of the mouth which is next to the space. These are connected to a wire that runs around the inside surfaces of the lower teeth, helping to ensure teeth are kept in position and cannot drift into the open spaces.
Distal Shoe Appliance
Yet another type of space maintainer is called a distal shoe appliance, and is used if a child loses their baby teeth before the first molars have come in. The distal shoe appliance uses a wire that is inserted under the gums, as there is no suitable tooth to hold a band and loop space maintainer in position. This type of space maintainer requires frequent checks by your pediatric dentist, as the wire can prevent the permanent tooth from erupting properly.
Children with several missing teeth may be supplied with a partial denture, for example children who have a congenital condition called ectodermal dysplasia. Children with this condition will need to use a partial denture into adulthood, until they are old enough to decide how to replace the teeth more permanently.
It’s not always necessary to have a space maintainer fitted after early tooth loss, and our dentist can advise you on whether or not it’s required.
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Do you have any questions about dental space maintainers? Would you like to schedule an appointment with a best rated pediatric dentist Dr. Marina Krepkh of Kids Best Dentist NYC, please contact our office for consultation.
Kids Best Dentist NYC
Dr. Marina Krepkh (Brooklyn Pediatric Dentist)
7708 4th Avenue 1st floor
Brooklyn, NY 11209 (Bay Ridge)