While it’s true that baby teeth are destined to fall out and be replaced by their adult counterparts, when they fall out too early, their absence can cause trouble down the line. Fortunately, space maintainers can keep your child’s teeth from shifting, so their smiles can continue to grow and develop as they should.
Space maintainers are essential if your child loses a baby tooth early. Baby teeth are meant to fall out eventually. But they also help form the “paths” that the adult teeth take when they emerge, and help young patients maintain proper alignment for their permanent teeth. If they lose a tooth early, they may have a higher risk of orthodontic complications later in life. With a space maintainer, your child’s pediatric dentist can make sure that early baby tooth loss doesn’t affect their oral development.
The first baby teeth start to fall out around the age of 6, and the last baby teeth fall out around the ages of 12-14.
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For older children who can reliably follow care instructions, removable space maintainers may be a good option. They utilize an artificial tooth or acrylic block to fill a large space between teeth. Their ability to be removed makes it easier for children to keep up with their oral hygiene.
Fixed space maintainers are great for a variety of needs, including for younger children who may not be able to reliably take care of a removable appliance.
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Early baby tooth loss makes it more likely that the adult teeth won’t erupt properly. This could negatively affect your child’s oral health as they grow and their jaws and teeth continue to develop throughout their childhood and teenage years.
If your child’s missing baby tooth causes a serious orthodontic issue, they may require braces or other orthodontic treatments to restore their oral health. Space maintainers are affordable, and virtually eliminate the risk of complications from a missing baby tooth.
With a space maintainer, you’ll know that your child’s oral health is protected, and that their adult teeth won’t have any trouble erupting as they grow. If you ask us, that’s worth every penny.
First, your child will need to see their pediatric dentist. In some cases, a space maintainer may not be needed. For example, if they lose their baby tooth only a few months early, their adult tooth will likely erupt normally on its own. Their dentist will examine their mouth and discuss the situation with you to determine if a space maintainer is necessary.
There are a few different types of space maintainers, but they all basically do the same thing. They are placed between your child’s teeth. By putting pressure on both of these teeth, they maintain the gap in your child’s smile where they’ve lost their tooth. Your child’s dentist will take impressions of their teeth, then begin fabricating a custom space maintainer.
You’ll come back to our office in a few weeks, and your child’s dentist will place their space maintainer. This takes just a few minutes. Then, you’ll be sent home. Your child will keep their space maintainer until the adult tooth is about to emerge. Your dentist will check on it during their routine six-month visits, and remove the space maintainer when it’s necessary to do so.
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It is crucial to make sure your child is brushing and flossing daily to prevent cavities from forming around the space maintainer. Encourage your child to avoid chewing gum, sticky candy, and hard foods. In addition, remind your little one to refrain from pulling or tugging on the space maintainer with their fingers, tongue, or other objects. If your child’s space maintainer loosens or breaks, contact our office immediately to schedule an appointment.
Space maintainers do not cause any pain. Your child may feel some minor discomfort for a few days after the appliance is placed, which is normal. Once they adjust to how it feels, your child will likely forget that the space maintainer is even there.
Space maintainers aren’t the right treatment for every child facing tooth loss. If you have an older child whose permanent tooth is about to erupt, a space maintainer may not be necessary. However, space maintainers are almost always recommended for younger children, as they are still a few years away from getting their permanent teeth. If you’re unsure whether your child is the right candidate for a space maintainer, give our office a call so we can schedule a consultation as soon as possible.
Space maintenance helps preserve the proper tooth spacing in your child’s mouth after tooth loss. This can create ample space for incoming adult teeth, which helps your child avoid oral development issues down the line. If tooth loss is ignored and a space maintenance treatment is delayed, costly orthodontic care or oral surgery may be necessary. The goal is to recognize and treat the issue as early as possible, so your child’s teeth and jaw can properly grow and maintain space for incoming adult teeth.