Space Maintainer

The Importance of Baby Teeth and the Role of Space Maintainers

While baby teeth are temporary fixtures in a child’s mouth, their presence is instrumental in shaping future oral health. Beyond their obvious functions in biting, chewing, and aiding speech, they pave the way for the correct positioning of permanent teeth.

There are instances, however, where due to disease or injury, a child might lose a baby tooth earlier than expected. This may pose a problem, as the absence of the baby tooth can lead to permanent teeth occupying incorrect positions. Small misalignments might kickstart a cascade of dental issues, like teeth being crowded or twisted. For situations like these, a device known as a space maintainer comes to the rescue.

What is a Space Maintainer?

Space maintainers are made from a blend of metal and plastic, crafted to ensure that the gap left by the missing tooth remains open for the right permanent tooth.

There are two typical types of space maintainers:

  • Fixed Appliances: These are cemented onto the teeth neighboring the gap, ensuring they remain stable and stationary. Fixed maintainers are particularly suitable for younger children, who might be tempted to fiddle with them.
  • Removable Appliances: These look like orthodontic retainers and may come with a prosthetic tooth to temporarily fill the gap. These are generally preferred for older children who are more likely to responsibly handle and care for them.

The Space Maintainer Procedure

Whether it’s a fixed or removable maintainer, a mold or 3-D image of your child’s mouth is used to ensure the appliance fits perfectly. Wearing the space maintainer is crucial, until a dentist decides that it is time for the new tooth to emerge.

Sometimes, certain permanent teeth never form. Dental implants are not recommended for growing children, so a space maintainer can fill the void until the jaw fully matures – at which point a dental implant becomes a possibility. Therefore, space maintainers ensure that mouth and jaw development remain on track.

Reach Out to Us About Space Maintainers

If you believe your child might need a space maintainer, please get in touch with the Tahquitz Dental Group. Our dentists are ready to evaluate your child’s situation and suggest the best course of action.
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