Maybe you had space maintainers when you were little and did not know why. Or your dentist might have recommended them for your child after losing their baby teeth too early. This article will answer a few questions about space maintainers and why they are necessary for your child.
What Is A Space Maintainer?
As the name suggests, space maintainers are dental devices that hold the teeth space until your child’s permanent teeth come in. They act as guides to ensure proper growth.
Without space maintainers, the adult teeth coming in would lose their alignment. This shift becomes more difficult and expensive to treat after the teeth erupt and grow in. They can adequately eliminate or reduce the need for braces or other therapy.
In addition, space maintainers are also a great way to reduce teeth cavities and cracks later, which might be caused by crowded and misaligned teeth.
What Causes Early Tooth Loss?
There are several reasons for early tooth loss. Teeth decay or gum conditions can be one of the reasons why your child needs their teeth extracted. Likewise, trauma or injury to the teeth can also knock out their teeth. In some cases, your child might also suffer from oral conditions that cause missing baby teeth.
Early loss of baby teeth is a massive problem for your child. These teeth are responsible for maintaining teeth alignment before the permanent teeth come in. When the permanent tooth is ready to erupt, it pushes onto the baby tooth, making it come loose.
It is always important to visit your dentist for advice on your child’s missing teeth.
What Are The Types Of Space Maintainers For Children?
Dentists use three types of space maintainers to prevent teeth misalignment. However, the type recommended depends on the location of your child’s missing teeth and their overall oral care routine. The three types of space maintainers are:
Fixed Space Maintainers
Fixed maintainer devices are made from stainless steel. Using dental cement, your dentist attaches a band or loop to the child’s gum. The wire band holds one or more teeth in a specific position, ensuring that the space between them is maintained.
One of the benefits of using the loop or band is that your child cannot take them out. This reduces your need to check if they are still wearing their device.
There are two types of fixed space maintainers. These are unilateral and bilateral space maintainers. Unilateral devices are fixed on one side of the mouth, whereas bilateral devices are set on both sides.
A distal shoe has also become a standard device used to maintain teeth space. They often secure molar space for children whose baby molars just came out.
Removable Space Maintainers
These types of space maintainers are plastic or acrylic. They are preferred for older children who can take them out themselves and clean the devices. Your dentist can either recommend a block or an artificial tooth as a fitting to hold the space.
However, one of the most significant disadvantages to removable appliances is that your child can easily misplace them if they are not careful. Likewise, it is easy to forget to wear them, leading to inconsistent treatment. Neglecting to wear them might lead to problems with permanent teeth spacing.
How Do Children Get Space Maintainers?
Getting a space maintainer should not be a problem. For one missing tooth, fabrication for the maintainer is immediate and done in the office.
On the other hand, if they have more missing teeth, the dentist will take measurements and create an impression of the missing teeth. This process ensures that all devices are the ideal fit for your child’s mouth.
Whichever space maintainer your child requires, make an appointment with All About Smile Dental Group to get the best advice.
How Do You Take Care Of Space Maintainers?
Proper care for the devices is essential to maintaining your child’s oral hygiene. After your child is fitted with the maintainer, gum irritations can be a huge problem. Continued irritation might also lead to swelling, inflammation, and infections.
To help reduce irritation, your child should swish around warm saltwater for a few minutes in the morning and before bed. It helps ensure faster healing of the damaged gum tissue and kills bacteria in the mouth.
Always make sure that they brush their teeth twice a day. It makes it easy to remove any dirt or food stuck between the teeth or the space maintainer. It’s essential to pay special attention and gently brush the gum area, as vigorous brushing might tear the gum, leading to irritation and slow healing.
Furthermore, avoid giving them candy, bubble gum, or sticky food, as they might pull out the space maintainer.
Make sure to schedule regular check-ups with your dentist. Regular examinations can ensure that the appliance is working correctly or replace the space maintainer if needed.
How Long Can A Space Maintainer Stay?
This all depends on when the adult tooth will start to erupt. When you notice the permanent tooth starting to come in, make sure to schedule an appointment with your dentist. They will perform an examination to determine when to remove the device. Do not try and take it out yourself without proper consultation.
Which Teeth Need A Space Maintainer?
Not every tooth lost early requires a space maintainer. Premature loss of the first four teeth does not require maintainers. The spaces can be left open, and the adult teeth will fill in later.
However, the appliances are necessary for molars and bicuspid teeth to prevent the movement or the loss of space for the permanent other canines and bicuspid teeth. These teeth might drift forward. They push forward or block the bicuspids and canines from erupting correctly.
If you want to learn more about dental health and how space maintainers can help your child, make an appointment with All About Smile Dental Group. Our dedicated team will conduct a thorough examination and provide the necessary advice for their therapy.