Baby teeth aren’t just for chewing. Each one also acts as a guide for the eruption of the permanent tooth that replaces it. If a baby tooth is lost too early, the permanent tooth loses its guide.It can drift or erupt into the wrong position in the mouth. Neighboring teeth also can move or tilt into the space. This means that there may not be enough room for the permanent tooth to come in. Baby teeth are referred to as primary or deciduous teeth.
Primary teeth can be lost too early for several reasons: They can be knocked out due to an accident, they may need to be extracted because of severe decay or they may be missing at birth. Not every tooth that is lost too early requires a space maintainer. If one of the four upper front teeth is lost early, the space will stay open on its own until the permanent tooth comes in. A consultation with a dentist is recommended to determine if one is needed. A space maintainer is an appliance that is custom-made for your child. It is made of stainless steel or plastic. It can either be removable or cemented in your child’s mouth. A fixed space maintainer is cemented into place to hold space for one or more teeth. A removable space maintainer looks like a retainer. It uses artificial teeth or plastic blocks to fill in the space or spaces that need to stay open. This type of space maintainer often is used when the space is obvious to other people.
Removable space maintainers work well in older children who can reliably follow directions about caring for this appliance. Once the space maintainer is made, it may take your child a few days to become accustomed to wearing the appliance whether it is removable or fixed. It may feel uncomfortable or affect speech, but after a few days, your child probably will forget that it is even in his or her mouth. It is important for your child to brush regularly to keep the gum tissue healthy. A child with a fixed space maintainer needs to avoid hard or sticky foods and chewy candy and gum. They can loosen the band or get caught under the wire arm. It is also important not to push or press the space maintainer with the tongue or fingers because this can bend or loosen the appliance.
At check up appointments, X-rays will be taken to follow the progress of the incoming permanent tooth. When the tooth is ready to erupt, the space maintainer will be removed to allow normal eruption of adult teeth.
Please call us if you have any questions about your child’s dental health.
This article was written by Helper