Has a dentist suggested that your child get space maintainers? Kids City Dental in Brighton, CO, has helped many children preserve their smiles with space maintainers. The truth is, the importance of space maintainers is often underrated. Simply because most parents or caregivers aren’t familiar with their purpose or how they work.
What Are Space Maintainers?
Space maintainers do exactly what the name implies – they go between teeth to ensure proper spacing. Our Brighton dentists use space maintainers after a child loses a tooth prematurely (like from an accident or infection) to prevent nearby teeth from shifting.
Our teeth, even well into adulthood, naturally shift when a gap forms between them. These spaces can lead to several concerns but are problematic when they form before adult teeth grow in. If a child’s teeth shift into a space meant for an adult tooth to erupt, the new tooth will usually become impacted or erupt out of place.
So, how does space maintainer work? The answer to this depends on the type of space maintainer used. However, most space maintainers are temporary metal appliances that attach to the nearby teeth to prevent them from moving.
When Do Dentists Use Space Maintainers?
At Kids City Dental, we do all we can to keep teeth healthy and strong. However, we occasionally need to extract children’s teeth due to decay, trauma, or other issues that can’t be treated. We use space maintainers in these situations because removing these teeth prematurely can alter the development of their “bite” and jaw.
What if We Don’t Place a Space Maintainer?
Our team doesn’t recommend space maintainers unless they are necessary. Without them, your child may suffer from cosmetic and functional issues.
Here’s what might happen without a space maintainer:
- Crooked teeth
- Crowded teeth
- Impacted tooth
- Poor jaw development
- Speech concerns
- Severe orthodontic complications
Types of Space Maintainers
We use a variety of space maintainers depending on which tooth is missing. Here’s an overview of the purpose of each type.
Band and Loop/Unilateral
Used for a single missing tooth, a band and loop uses a wide band around one tooth, with a thin wire loop extending off one side, reaching as far as the tooth past the missing one. It prevents the two teeth from closing together, leaving space for the unerupted tooth.
Designed for molars, distal shoe space maintainers help molars in the back of the mouth grow into place properly.
Missing multiple teeth poses a big risk and needs a more robust space maintainer. Lingual arch space maintainers attach to the molars and prevent the front teeth from shifting.
Crown and Loop
For children who have crowns, we use crown and loop maintainers just like unilateral ones. Instead of attaching to the neighboring tooth, it attaches to the crown.
How Long Will the Space Maintainer Last?
Since space maintainers are made of stainless steel in most cases. They can last for quite some time, but are meant to be temporary. In general, your child will need their space maintainer removed once their adult tooth is ready to erupt. We track tooth development at each checkup and will promptly remove the space maintainer once it’s time.
In some cases, a permanent tooth never develops. For these situations, the space maintainer will stay in your child’s mouth until they are ready to get a flipper, bridge, or dental implant.
Caring For a Space Maintainer
Your child will hardly notice their space maintainer once it’s installed. But it may be prone to more plaque buildup or food residue, so it’s important to brush around it daily.
Sometimes, space maintainers can break or become dislodged. Be sure to avoid things like:
- Chewing gum
- Hard, sticky candy
- Accidently pulling it off with floss
- Biting carrots, ice, and other hard foods
- Chewing on pens and pencils
Schedule Your Child’s Appointment
Does your child need a tooth extraction or have an open space in their smile? The Kids City Dental team in Brighton is happy to evaluate your child’s teeth to see if a space maintainer is necessary. While we’re at it, we can also clean their teeth and identify any potential issues with their orofacial development.
Call today to get started.