Mind the Gap: Space Maintainers for Kids
Some children lose their primary (milk or baby) teeth too soon. A prematurely empty space in the mouth can cause your child’s permanent tooth to come in crookedly.
Baby teeth normally stay until the permanent ones push them out and take their place. Unfortunately a tooth may be knocked out accidentally or removed due to tooth decay or abscess.
When this happens, your pediatric dentist may advise a space maintainer to ‘save’ the space for permanent teeth and prevent future orthodontic problems.
Just because a child’s milk teeth are bound to fall out eventually on their own, doesn’t mean parents can be less attentive to carrying out early oral health habits. Remember, some baby teeth are not replaced until a child is 12 or 14 years old.
Baby teeth are important because they:
- save and guard the area where the permanent tooth will erupt
- guide the permanent tooth into position
- help your child chew and speak
- encourage normal jawbone and facial muscle development
SEE ALSO: The Dangers of Early Loss of Baby Teeth
How can a space maintainer help?
A space maintainer will hold open the empty space left by a lost or removed tooth. It’s made to keep the remaining teeth steady, preventing movement (drifting or tipping) until the permanent tooth takes its natural position in the jaw.
It’s unobtrusive and most children easily adjust to them after the first few days.
Space maintainers are a lot more affordable than having to correct teeth back in place with more extensive orthodontic treatments.
What are the steps for space maintainer care?
- Make sure your child avoids hard foods, sticky sweets or chewing gum. These can loosen the band or get caught in the wires.
- Don’t tug or push or try to bend the wire of the space maintainer with your fingers or tongue.
- Teeth should be brushed after each meal and clean the teeth with bands especially well.
- Continue regular visits to your dentists.
Updated: March 31, 2019