Space Maintainer for Baby Teeth

A child may lose a tooth sooner than he or she should, causing the surrounding teeth to fill in the empty space and to block the permanent tooth. There are several reasons a child might lose a tooth prematurely. The tooth may fall out, be knocked out by accident, or need to be extracted because of dental decay or other oral health issues. Regardless of the reason for premature tooth loss, it can pose a problem when the child's permanent teeth start to come in. For this reason, a cosmetic dentist may recommend the child wear a space maintainer until the permanent tooth is positioned to erupt.

Why Would a Child Need a Space Maintainer?

When a child loses a tooth too early, surrounding teeth may shift to fill the empty space. This can leave little to no room for a permanent tooth to grow. Teeth spacers are custom-made metal devices that are used to hold the space between kids' teeth open so there is adequate room for permanent teeth to come in. The reason we often times want to hold the space is to potentially prevent the need for orthodontics in the future. Space maintainers can be either fixed or removable however, at Great Lakes Dental Arts; we prefer to use a fixed space maintainer. Every case is different, so a dentist will help determine which option best suits each child's needs.

Wearing the Device

Once the device is in place, a child may need a few days to adjust to having the appliance in his or her mouth. While the device is in a child's mouth, they will need to avoid eating sticky, chewy, and sugary foods. These types of foods can loosen the space maintainer and cause damage. A child must also be meticulous about oral hygiene to keep tooth decay and other dental health problems at bay. The dentist will use x-rays to monitor the progress of permanent tooth growth. Once the tooth is ready to grow in its proper place, the spacer is removed. If your child loses a tooth earlier than he or she should, visit the dentist's office to see if a space maintainer is an option to consider. An oral health care specialist will evaluate your child's condition and determine if she needs to wear a space maintainer until her permanent tooth is properly placed.