Space maintainers are custom-crafted oral appliances used to reserve the space where a missing tooth would have been until a permanent tooth can erupt or the jaw reaches maturity. There are a number of reasons why kids lose teeth early, including injury and severe decay. When teeth are prematurely missing, the surrounding teeth can begin to shift, resulting in misalignment. Without space maintainers to replace missing teeth, children are often subject to extensive orthodontic treatment as they reach adolescence and adulthood.
Did you know…
that premature tooth loss does not necessarily mean your child will need a space maintainer? For example, the upper middle four teeth can be lost early without complication. Similarly, a space maintainer may not be necessary if a permanent tooth is preparing to erupt where a primary tooth was prematurely lost.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does my child need a space maintainer?
Your child may need a space maintainer if he or she is missing a primary or permanent tooth. The jaw grows continuously throughout childhood and into adolescence, and a missing tooth –whether primary or permanent – can disrupt tooth alignment and cause complications later in life. A space maintainer helps maintain the space that the missing tooth would have until it can be replaced with a permanent restoration in adulthood.
What should I expect during my child’s space maintainer appointment?
Fitting your child for a space maintainer may require multiple dental office visits. At the first visit, your child will be fitted for a band that fits securely around the abutment tooth. An impression will then be made of your child’s tooth with the band on. That impression will be used to create a loop that will serve as the space maintainer where the missing tooth is located. The loop will be soldered to the band, and your child will return to have it cemented in place.
Will I need to follow any special care instructions after my child gets space maintainers?
Your child’s space maintainer may take some time to adjust to. Remind your child to keep the gums surrounding the spacer healthy by gently brushing them daily. You’ll also need to avoid giving your child hard and sticky foods that could dislodge the spacer and present a health risk if accidently inhaled or swallowed.
You will return to your child’s dentist periodically for X-rays and to monitor the progress of the underlying permanent teeth. Your child’s space maintainer will be removed before the permanent tooth erupts. If the maintainer is being used in place of a permanent tooth, it will remain there until jaw growth reaches maturity (usually between ages 16 and 18) when a permanent restoration can replace it.
Contact the office of Brent J Porter DDS at 831-459-9802 today if you would like to ask our pediatric dentist more about space maintainers in Santa Cruz, California.