Your child’s primary (baby) teeth have the critical job of being guides and space holders for adult teeth. When your child's tooth suffers from trauma or sustains tooth decay that causes an early loss of their primary tooth, it can be a cause for concern. However, if they happen to lose a tooth before it’s time, the good news is that a space maintainer might be the solution you need to protect the alignment of their smile now and in the future.
What Is a Space Maintainer?
A space maintainer is an appliance usually made of metal or acrylic that is designed to hold a place open so the permanent tooth or teeth can come in correctly. This appliance can also be useful when planning for orthodontic treatment if your child suffers from crowding, and it could play a role in a phased orthodontic treatment plan.
The type of space maintainers that Dr. Meghanne may recommend called a fixed space maintainer, which means that it's not removable.
If an appliance is not used to maintain space, the teeth tend to shift causing the permanent teeth to come in crooked or even become blocked out. While placing a space maintainer will not guarantee straight teeth, choosing not to use one could result in a more complex orthodontic plan for your son or daughter in the future.
Wearing the Space Maintainer
Your child’s space maintainer will take some getting used to as they learn to eat and talk with it in place.
If it’s removable, they may need help learning to clean it properly during their normal home care routine, which is essential to eliminate any bacteria or other debris it may collect. It is critical to keep the appliance clean, so it doesn’t spread plaque or irritate their gum tissue. We recommend brushing it gently or using a rinse to clean it during your child's nightly brushing routine.
If their appliance is fixed, it is important to avoid certain hard or sticky foods, which could pull the space maintainer out or break it. They will also need to avoid pressing on it with their tongue or fingers, which could cause it to bend or loosen.
Regular checkups with Dr. Meghanne and cleanings with their hygienist are essential to monitor their oral health and ensure that the space maintainer is working correctly.
Dr. Meghanne is happy to discuss with you the use of space maintainers and which type may be ideal for your child. Contact The Pass Pediatric Dental Group to learn more.