A space maintainer is a dental device that preserves the void left by a prematurely lost baby tooth. Children sometimes lose their primary teeth prematurely due to dental decay, sports injury, and accidents. Although the teeth eventually grow back, the teeth surrounding the lost teeth will move into the empty space and cause crowding of the permanent teeth that are yet to develop. A space maintainer preserves this space for a healthy, confident smile!
Contact your Winter Garden Pediatric dentist today.
Space maintainers help promote normal speech development.
During the first consultation, the dentist will examine your child’s teeth to determine whether a space maintainer is necessary. They’ll take X-rays of your child's teeth to determine the spacing distance and the position of the yet-to-erupt permanent teeth. They’ll then ask your child to bite into a soft material to take impressions of their teeth.
The dentists will send the impressions to a lab to fabricate the space maintainer. A typical space maintainer consists of metal wires, bands, and an artificial tooth. Fabrication usually takes about two to three weeks, depending on the dental clinic. Computer-aided-design technology ensures the maintainers are comfortable and fit snugly in the empty space.
Your dentist will schedule an appointment for the placement once the space maintainer is ready. This placement involves cleaning and preparing the teeth next to the empty space. For fixed maintainers, the dentist will spread dental glue on the empty space before bonding the maintainer with the surface. For removable maintainers, the dentist will provide instructions on how to install and remove the maintainers.
Once installed, the dentist will send you and your child home with instructions for caring for the maintainers. They’ll advise you on how to ensure your child maintains proper oral hygiene by brushing and flossing around the space maintainer. For removable maintainers, you’ll also get instructions on how long your child should wear them. The dentists will remove the space maintainers once your child’s permanent teeth erupt.
It’s worth noting that you can accompany your child throughout the entire procedure. In fact, we recommend doing so to boost your child’s confidence and reduce their anxiety.
Crown and loop space maintainers consist of a wire loop and a stainless-steel crown placed on one tooth. The crown presses against the tooth on one side of the empty space to keep the gap open. Dentists remove the crown once the permanent teeth grow in.
This maintainer is specific to the first molars that haven’t yet erupted in your child’s mouth. Dentists embed this maintainer in the gumline when your child’s molar falls out prematurely. The maintainer will then direct the permanent molar to grow the right way.
Lingual space maintainers are the most popular space maintainers available today. They consist of wires and crowns strewn over several tooth gaps. These maintainers sit in the lingual surface of the mouth, hence the name Lingual space maintainer.
Unilateral maintainers are almost similar to crown and loop maintainers, but with the former, dentists wrap the wire around the teeth on both sides of the gap.
Space maintainers help promote proper jaw growth and development.
The need for a space maintainer depends on various factors, including your child's age, the specific tooth that is missing, and the development of their permanent teeth. If your child loses a primary tooth early and there is a risk of neighboring teeth shifting into the space, a dentist may recommend a space maintainer. However, every case is unique, so it's best to consult with a dental professional who can assess your child's situation and provide personalized advice.
Space maintainers can be used for adult patients too.