Many things can lead to the early loss of baby teeth. If your child has lost a tooth recently due an injury, an untreated cavity, or some other cause, your dentist may have suggested a space maintainer. So you may be wondering, what do I need to know about space maintainers?
What is a Space Maintainer used for?
Space maintainers are used to maintain the space where a baby or primary tooth previously was so that when the permanent tooth erupts it is more likely to come in with proper alignment. Without a space maintainer, it is more likely that problems might arise that could be costly in the future. Space maintainers may reduce the need or duration of treatment for braces or other orthodontics. They may also reduce cavities or cracks in the teeth later on which can result from incorrectly aligned and crowded teeth.
An Excellent Advancement
Perhaps you never had a space maintainer as a child so the idea sounds strange, but dentists and orthodontists are constantly working to better the field of pediatric dentistry to benefit the next generation even more. Considering that tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in children ages 6-11 years and 4 times more common than asthma in teens, yet very preventable, this is great news.
Types of Space Maintainers
You’re probably wondering about space maintainers, and what they are like. The answer can vary based on what type your child’s dentist recommends: removable or fixed. The type recommended may be based on your child’s age, the type of space needing to be held, and the location or number of the missing tooth or teeth.
Fixed space maintainers can be attached to the healthy teeth around the space using dental cement, similarly to braces. They can be great for young children who may be prone to remove an unfixed dental appliance in order to ensure that they receive the greatest benefit from the space maintainer.
Removable space maintainers also attach to nearby teeth, usually by fitting snugly over them, but can be slipped on and off as needed. They sometimes include an artificial tooth or block to hold the space, so can be great for when the gap of a missing tooth may be noticable. Removable space maintainers are usually only recommended when the child is old enough or mature enough to be able to wear and care for it as directed.
Talk to Your Child’s Dentist
If your child has lost a tooth recently, it’s a good time to make an appointment with a dentist for an exam and to ask them if your child may need a space maintainer or any additional questions you may have about space maintainers. Starting early with good dental care is important to help your child get the best start possible for good lifelong dental health.
Call our San Antonio Dental Office to make an appointment with a dentist who may be able to help you find out more about this topic, and improve your oral health.