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.
Why would my child need space maintainers?
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.
Removable Space Maintainers
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
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.
The Space Maintainer Process
Initial Exam & Approval
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.
Space Maintainer Fitting
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 in Memphis will take impressions or models of their teeth, then begin fabricating a custom space maintainer.
Space Maintainer Placement
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.