Does Your Child Need Space Maintainers?

All about space maintainers

Many parents think nothing of it when their children lose baby teeth prematurely. And, early loss of baby teeth happens far more often than we might think due to trips, falls, and other accidents. But, unfortunately, when those baby teeth come out early, it can cause problems for erupting permanent teeth. So, if your child does lose their baby teeth too early, the chances are that your dentist will recommend space maintainers to ensure adequate space for those future adult teeth.

What are space maintainers?

Space maintainers are oral appliances designed to maintain the space left behind when baby teeth come out. Made of metal or acrylic, space maintainers can be either fixed permanently in the mouth or can be removable. Fixed space maintainers are cemented into the mouth, while removable space maintainers look similar to retainers except that they include an artificial tooth.

Whether your dentist recommends a fixed space maintainer or a removable version for your child, the goal is to prevent the surrounding teeth from shifting into the space that has been left behind from a baby tooth gone too soon. As soon as the permanent tooth starts to break through the gums, the dentist will recommend the removal of the space maintainer.

What are the different types of space maintainers?

Your children’s dental specialist will recommend one of four different types of space maintainers.

  1. Unilateral space maintainers: One of the most common space maintainer types, this version is constructed to fit on one side of your child’s mouth and form or wrap around an existing tooth. The maintainer will have a metal loop that extends into the space left by the missing tooth to preserve the space.
  2. Crown and loop space maintainers: This style of space maintainer is similar to the unilateral space version, except that it uses a dental crown over the existing tooth instead of wrapping around it.
  3. Lingual space maintainers: These space maintainers are used when multiple baby teeth are missing. These are cemented to the insides of your child’s molars and are then connected to the front teeth with a metal wire.
  4. Distal shoe space maintainers: This type of space maintainer is inserted into the gum line to ensure that there is enough space for your child’s erupting permanent teeth. This type of maintainer is explicitly designed for use on your child’s first permanent molar.

When are they recommended for kids?

Just because your child loses a baby tooth doesn’t mean that they will need a space maintainer. In most circumstances, space maintainers are needed only when a child loses a baby tooth before the permanent replacement tooth is ready to come in through the gums. Occasionally this happens due to tooth decay or trauma to the tooth. But in other cases, early tooth loss occurs naturally.

Your pediatric dentist will often recommend space maintainers for kids in the following situations:

  • There is a lack of space for your child’s permanent teeth to erupt into.
  • Your child has an increased risk that their teeth may become impacted or erupt improperly.
  • There is overcrowding or overlapping permanent teeth in your child’s mouth.
  • Your child has a speech impediment.
  • There is a misaligned bite, otherwise known as malocclusion.
  • Your child’s dentist has indicated that there may be more need for orthodontic treatment in the future.

What should parents know about the process of getting one, and the related upkeep?

Your child may experience some minor discomfort when they get their space maintainers. The following suggestions should be followed, unless otherwise noted by your children’s dental specialist:

  • You can give your child Tylenol or Advil to help with any pain. Be sure to follow dosage guidance by your physician or your child’s dentist.
  • Have your child avoid hard, sticky foods that can get stuck in the space maintainer. Sticky foods may also inadvertently pull off the maintainer.
  • Stick to your child’s daily oral hygiene routine, including brushing twice a day, flossing once per day, and rinsing with a fluoridated mouthwash.
  • If your child’s space maintainer comes loose for any reason, be sure to contact your dentist right away. In most cases, the space maintainer can be cemented back into place.
  • Keep the fixed space maintainer in or follow instructions for using a removable space maintainer until your dentist advises you that your child no longer needs it.

Pediatric Dental Specialists are experts in space maintainers for kids.

If you live in the Omaha, Hastings, Grand Island, or North Platte areas and your child has lost a baby tooth prematurely, do not hesitate to give the team at Pediatric Dental Specialists a call. Not only are we experts in space maintainers, but if you have been searching for the best pediatric dentist near me, then look no further. We’re here and happy to help you and your child. Request an appointment using our easy-to-use online form or give our office a call. We look forward to meeting you.