Baby Teeth and Space Maintainers

Baby Teeth and Space Maintainers

Baby teeth are an important part of your child’s current and future dental health. But as we all know, these teeth eventually fall out. A baby tooth usually stays in place until a permanent tooth underneath pushes it out and takes its place. In some cases though, a child loses a baby tooth too early, possibly due to an accident or due to dental disease. If this happens, our pediatric dentists might recommend a space maintainer to prevent future space loss and additional dental problems.

If a baby tooth is lost too soon, the teeth beside it might tilt or drift into the empty space. Teeth in the opposite jaw might move up or down to fill the gap. When adjacent teeth move into these empty spaces, they create a lack of space in the jaw for permanent teeth. This leads to the permanent teeth coming in crowded or crooked.

Space maintainers are appliances made of metal or plastic that are custom fit to your child’s mouth. They are small and unobtrusive, and most children adjust to them in a few days. Space maintainers hold open the empty space left by a lost tooth. They keep the remaining teeth in place and prevent the others from moving until the permanent teeth take their natural position in the jaw. It’s more affordable and easier on your child to keep teeth in normal positions with a space maintainer than to move them back into place with orthodontic treatment.

Space maintainers are easy to care for. Children with them should avoid sticky sweets and chewing gum. Also, children should avoid pulling or pushing the space maintainer with their fingers or tongue. Always clean and floss the space maintainer, just as you do with the rest of your teeth. And continue coming for regular dental check ups so we can  ensure there are no problems with the appliance.

If you have any questions about space maintainers for your child, please call our office at 910-794-2266 and one we’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Article information courtesy of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.