In this post, you’ll learn all about dental space maintainers. We’ll explain what they are and why your child would need them, what types there are, and how to ensure your child is wearing them correctly.
What Are Dental Space Maintainers?
A space maintainer is a custom-made appliance that’s made out of either metal or acrylic material and can be either safely cemented in a child’s mouth or removable. If a child loses a baby tooth too early or has one extracted because of a severe tooth decay or an infection, your child may need dental space maintainers. When a baby tooth is lost prematurely, empty spaces in your child’s smile can create serious dental issues down the road because the rest of the teeth often drift and shift to fill the gap. This can lead to permanent teeth coming in crooked, which can make proper dental hygiene and even eating difficult for your child. Therefore, dental space maintainers are a great way to keep that space open so permanent teeth are more likely to come in correctly aligned.
Keep in mind that losing a baby tooth early doesn’t mean that your child will definitely need a dental space maintainer. However, it’s a good idea to bring your child in for a consultation just to be safe, especially if it was lost due to trauma.
What Kind of Dental Space Maintainers Are There?
There are two types of space maintainers, those that are removable and those that are fixed:Removable
Space maintainers that can be removed are similar to removable orthodontic appliances. They perform the same function as a fixed dental space maintainer, but are prone to breakage and loss. Therefore, this kind is not commonly used for children.Fixed
For fixed dental space maintainers, they can either be unilateral or bilateral:
- A unilateral device is placed on one side of the mouth to occupy a space left by one baby tooth. Types include a crown and loop, a band and loop, or a distal shoe.
- Bilateral devices include a lingual or mandibular space maintainer (for teeth missing on the lower jaw) and a maxillary space maintainer or Nance appliance (for teeth missing on the upper jaw). These preserve adequate space for unerupted permanent teeth when multiple teeth are missing from the dental arches.
How Should My Child Wear the Space Maintainers?
It may take a few days for your child to get used to wearing their space maintainer. For fixed appliances, help your child avoid sticky foods like gum, caramel, and candy. Additionally, discourage them from pushing the space maintainers with their tongue or fingers as this could loosen the appliance. Our team will have gone over how you to properly clean the space maintainer, but be sure to contact us if you or your child have any questions or concerns about maintaining the appliance.
Consult with Our Expert Team!
If you think your child may need a space maintainer, or have questions about a space maintainer your child already has, contact us today.Contact Us