Around age six, baby teeth start getting loose and falling out. This can mean introducing your child to the Tooth Fairy and worrying about ensuring their permanent teeth grow into the correct spots. This is not always a straightforward process.

To help avoid misaligned teeth and other costly issues, you can turn to space maintainers. Here is more information about space maintainers so you can decide whether they are a good option for your child.

Understanding the Need for Space Maintainers

Sometimes, a permanent tooth can take a long time to make its appearance after the baby tooth has fallen out. Seeing your child’s gap-tooth smile can be adorable, but what does it mean for their dental alignment?

Teeth depend on one another for support and to maintain alignment, so if there’s a gap, nearby teeth will shift toward the vacant space. Once the permanent tooth erupts, it may not have the space it needs, potentially leading to an overbite, a misaligned jaw, and many other issues.

It’s not only a delayed tooth eruption that can lead to your child needing a space maintainer. If they had a tooth extracted because of cavities, or if they lost a tooth as a result of an injury, they can also benefit from a maintainer.

A maintainer holds the vacant space open by preventing nearby teeth from moving. It does this while still allowing room for the permanent tooth to grow in.

Types of Space Maintainers

There are both fixed and removable space maintainers. One type of fixed maintainer is the unilateral one. These are appropriate when your child has experienced premature tooth loss on one side of the mouth. It’s a band that attaches to a permanent tooth with a wire loop extending across the vacant space. There are also bilateral options.

Crown and loop space maintainers are the right option for children who have lost a molar. These maintainers involve putting a crown over the tooth next to the space. A steel loop connects to the crown and extends over the space.

Another option is a lingual space maintainer. This maintainer has a metal bar that connects to the molars on both sides of the mouth. It’s ideal for children who are missing more than one tooth.

Distal shoe space maintainers are more intensive options. They’re excellent for children who have lost a molar without a permanent replacement ready to erupt. These maintainers go under the gumline.

There are also removable space maintainers. They’re similar to retainers in that your child can remove them to eat. Some of them come with artificial teeth to fill in the space.

The Process of Getting Space Maintainers

The first step is to schedule an appointment with an orthodontist. What is an orthodontist? They are experts who use dental appliances like retainers, braces, and bands to change the position of teeth in the mouth.

At the appointment, the orthodontist will examine your child’s teeth to see if a space maintainer is the right choice to help prevent issues that could end up requiring kids’ braces.

If it is the right choice, they’ll take impressions of your child’s teeth as well as of the gap. These impressions go to a lab that will create the space maintainer. It can take a few weeks for the lab to do this.

Once the space maintainer is ready, you and your child will need to attend the fitting appointment. This will allow the orthodontist to check the fit and attach it if it’s a fixed option. The process is painless and only requires the use of dental cement.

Caring for Space Maintainers

As with devices used for teeth straightening, taking care of the space maintainers is essential. You want to encourage your child to follow good oral hygiene, including brushing and flossing as they normally would. They’ll also need to avoid hard candies, chewing gum, and anything else that can dislodge the device.

Encourage your child to pay attention to how the space maintainer feels. If anything changes and the device becomes loose, they need to alert you. Another vital element is to keep up with regular visits to your child’s pediatric dentist. They’ll be able to check how effective the space maintainer is.

The Positive Impact on Future Orthodontic Treatment

Experts in orthodontics recommend space maintainers for some children because they can prevent serious issues beyond misalignment. Some complex conditions, like overbites, can occur because of crowded teeth, so finding ways to prevent this problem is essential.

By preventing teeth from shifting out of place and ensuring that erupting teeth have the necessary space, maintainers help your child avoid the need for elaborate orthodontic procedures.

Maintaining Your Child’s Smile

A space maintainer helps prevent tooth misalignment that could lead to orthodontic issues like overbites and more. At We Make Kids Smile, we’re here to offer the services your child needs to achieve a healthy smile.

Schedule your child’s consultation today by calling us at We Make Kids Smile.

Do you have a question? We can help!

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Prince Frederick

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Prince Frederick, MD 20678


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