What Are Space Maintainers? Why Use Them?
Children’s milk or primary teeth are meant to last until their permanent or adult teeth are ready to erupt, but things can go wrong. Sometimes milk teeth are lost prematurely, perhaps to decay or some kind of accident. When this happens, Dr. Marina Krepkh or any of the pediatric dentists at the Kids Dentistry Center may suggest that your child has a space maintainer. But what is a space maintainer and why is it necessary?
What Are Space Maintainers?
A space maintainer is a custom-made orthodontic appliance and may be fixed onto the remaining teeth or removable. Space maintainers can be made from acrylic or wire and may use artificial teeth or plastic blocks to fill in the space. Dr. Krepkh is likely to use an artificial tooth if the gap is highly visible to other people.
Fixed vs. Removable Space Maintainers
The most straightforward type of space maintainer is fixed onto the adjacent tooth and consists of a band and loop type structure. A band is fixed around the adjacent tooth while a loop of stainless steel wire sticks out across the space left by the missing tooth, holding it open. A removable space maintainer looks a little like a retainer that would normally be born after orthodontic treatment. Removable space maintainers tend to be used for older children who are able to care properly for this appliance whereas the fixed space maintainers tend to be used for younger children who may have difficulty caring for a removable retainer.
Why Is a Space Maintainer Necessary?
Space maintainers can be extremely useful in making sure the correct amount of space is maintained in between the remaining teeth. This might seem strange as after all these teeth are all going to be replaced with adult teeth, but if one is lost too early then the remaining teeth can shift out of position causing problems with the way the permanent teeth come through. If there is insufficient room for the permanent teeth to erupt normally and they may come through in the wrong place or at the wrong angle. A space maintainer helps ensure this cannot happen, possibly reducing the need for orthodontic treatment in the future and ensuring the adult teeth can come through without any abnormal discomfort or pain.
Do All Missing Teeth Need to Be Replaced with a Space Maintainer?
Not all missing teeth need to be replaced with a space maintainer, but it is important to see your pediatric dentist if your child loses a tooth prematurely so it can be properly assessed. If a permanent tooth is about to erupt into the empty space then it might not be necessary for your child to wear a space maintainer. If your child does have a space maintainer then it’s important to make sure they see Dr. Marina Krepkh or another of our pediatric dentists at the Kids Dentistry Center for regular checkups. This is because we will want to make sure that your child is brushing their teeth properly and is able to look after their retainer. In addition we will want to make sure the retainer still fits well and is still doing its job properly.
Kids Best Dentist Brooklyn NYC
Dr. Marina Krepkh
7708 4th Avenue 1st floor
Brooklyn, NY 11209 (Bay Ridge)