When a baby tooth is lost too early, either due to being knocked out accidentally or to decay, your pediatric dentist may recommend a space maintainer to prevent future space loss and dental problems. Space maintainers are appliances made of metal or plastic that are custom fit to your child’s mouth. They are small and unobtrusive in appearance. Most children easily adjust to them after the first few days.
Purpose of Space Maintainers
If a baby tooth is lost too soon, the teeth beside it may tilt or drift into the empty space. Teeth in the other jaw may move up or down to fill the gap. When adjacent teeth shift into the empty space, they create a lack of space in the jaw for the permanent teeth. Therefore, permanent teeth are crowded and come in crooked. If left untreated, the condition may require extensive orthodontic treatment.
Space maintainers hold open the empty space left by a lost tooth. They steady the remaining teeth, preventing movement until the permanent tooth takes its natural position in the jaw. It is more affordable and easier on your child to keep the teeth in normal positions with a space maintainer that to move them back in place with orthodontic treatment.
Space Maintainer Care
Pediatric dentists have four rules for space maintainer care:
- Avoid sticky sweets or chewing gum
- Do not tug or push on the space maintainer with fingers or the tongue
- Keep it clean with conscientious brushing and flossing
- Continue regular dental visits