If your child has had a baby tooth extracted because of dental decay or if they have lost a tooth early, they may need a space maintainer. In either case, it can be helpful to know how a space maintainer works to support your child’s dental health and the benefits they offer.
The purpose of a space maintainer is to leave room for a new permanent tooth to erupt and come into the proper position. Because baby teeth are critical to the growth of healthy teeth, when baby teeth are lost the muscles in jaw bones help guide permanent teeth into position. If space is not maintained due to early tooth loss, then teeth will shift into the open space leading to poor positioning. If that happens, orthodontic treatment may be needed.
While not every child who loses a tooth early will require a space maintainer, you should consult with your dentist or orthodontist to determine if your child needs one.
There are two kinds of space maintainers that can be used for children. One kind is removable and the other is fixed. Removable space maintainers are typically made of acrylic. Artificial teeth are occasionally used as a “placeholder” for a missing tooth until a new one erupts.
If your dentist suggests a fixed space maintainer, there are four kinds that may be used: unilateral, crown and loop, distal shoe, and lingual. Your dentist will be able to recommend which type of fixed space maintainer is best for your child’s needs.
If you have questions about dental space maintainers in Tacoma for your child, visit our office and let our friendly staff assist you.