The baby (milk) teeth in your child’s mouth have an important role to play in the development of their jaw and adult teeth. Baby teeth will help your child learn to bite, chew and speak clearly. They will also assist in guiding the permanent teeth into the correct position. A primary function of milk teeth is to hold the appropriate space that the adult teeth need when they grow in.
In a perfect world, that is how it is supposed to work. Illness or injury may result in a baby tooth being lost before its time. A gap may be left, before the adult tooth is ready to erupt. When this occurs, the permanent adult teeth that are erupting on either side of this gap can drift into the area. This can result in teeth erupting out of position, or being entirely blocked. Crooked or crowded teeth can be the result. At Weideman Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics we have the solution, with a dental appliance known as a space maintainer.
Understanding the Space Maintainer
Also referred to as a space maintenance appliance, this dental appliance is typically made from metal, plastic, or a combination of both. Space maintainers can be removable or fixed. They are designed to help children develop a healthy bite, and potentially avoid the need for an orthodontic solution later. Whether it is removable or fixed, the space maintainer will be custom made to ensure the perfect fit.
The Removable Space Maintainer
The removable space maintainer appliance closely resembles the retainer that is typically worn by those who have undergone orthodontic treatment. Removable maintainers are the better option for older children who are able to take responsibility and care for the dental appliance.
The Fixed Space Maintainer
The fixed appliance will be cemented onto the teeth adjacent to the gap left behind by the missing tooth. There are several designs, each offering its own set of benefits for the patient. Fixed space maintainers are quite often the preferred choice for younger children, as they are not as easy to break or misplace as their removable counterparts are.
Adjusting to Space Maintainers
Once the space maintainer has been made, it will be fitted to the mouth of the patient. It can take a few days for the child to get accustomed to wearing the space maintainer appliance, whether it is fixed or removable. Our dentist will review with you and your child the best ways to clean the space maintainer. It is important to avoid sticky and chewy foods that could get caught on the space maintainer.
How Long Should Space Maintainers Be Worn?
Whether they are fixed or removable, your child’s space maintainer will need to be worn until x-rays demonstrate that the adult tooth is prepared to erupt. It is important that children keep up with a good oral hygiene routine at home, and that they are seen for their regular dental cleanings.
At Weideman Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics we offer treatments and solutions that will meet the individual dental wellness needs of each of our patients. Call us at (916) 962-0577 to schedule a cleaning or appointment to address missing teeth. It is never too early to begin a lifetime of good oral health.