Child Lose A Tooth Too Early? Their Orthodontist May Recommend A Space Maintainer

Your child will eventually lose all their baby teeth. When this happens, the permanent tooth pushes the baby tooth out when it is ready to come in. If your child loses one of their baby teeth too early due to trauma or tooth decay, it can take a long time for the permanent tooth to come in. In cases like this, your child's orthodontist will most likely recommend a space maintainer.

Space Maintainer

A space maintainer is recommended because your child's existing teeth can move into the vacant space left by the missing tooth. If this happens, the permanent tooth may be prevented from coming in straight. This can cause problem with speech and chewing, as well as a hefty orthodontist bill later on.

A space maintainer simply keeps the space open to allow the permanent tooth to come into place.

Types of Space Maintainers

Space maintainers are custom-made by your orthodontist and made of metal. There are three different types of space maintainers, which are cemented to the teeth. These types include:

  • Unilateral: This type of space maintainer consists of a crown and loop.  A crown is first put over the missing tooth space, and then a space maintainer is affixed to the neighboring tooth, The orthodontist attaches a loop to the space maintainer, and then connects the loop to the crown to hold it in place.
  • Distal: The orthodontist may use a distal shoe space maintainer if your child's first permanent molar does not come in. A metal end is inserted into the gum line to hold the maintainer in place and keep the space from closing. If your child has this type of space maintainer, the orthodontist will likely need to monitor their progress of the permanent molar to ensure it is able to erupt with the space maintainer in place.
  • Lingual: A lingual space maintainer is used if your child loses teeth on both sides of their mouth, and the six-year-old molars are in place behind them. Wire is cemented to the present six year molars on each side, and then is bent in the shape of your child's dental arch. It rests on the inside surfaces of your child's front teeth.

Once the space maintainer is in place, it is important that your child brushes and flosses their teeth every day, and keep the maintainer clean. This will keep their gums healthy, and stop dental plaque from building up. Your orthodontist will show you and your child how to clean it. There are also certain foods your child will need to avoid, such as sticky foods, popcorn, and gum. If you're looking for an orthodontist, visit Crest Hill Family Dental.