Space Maintainer or Partial Denture?

Space maintainer for missing teeth

Every child goes through the natural process of losing their baby teeth to make room for their permanent teeth. However, what happens when a child loses a baby tooth too early? You might think everything will work itself out, but your child may need a space maintainer or partial denture to deal with the missing tooth.

Why the Gap from a Missing Tooth Needs Filling

If your child loses a baby tooth before an emerging permanent tooth pushes it out, there can be complications. The teeth around a missing tooth are likely to become prematurely loose as well, spreading the problem. As these teeth shift, they can cause issues with other emerging teeth.

When the permanent tooth does emerge, the presence of baby teeth that have shifted into the gap can cause that tooth to emerge into the wrong position. If this happens, your child will eventually need further orthodontic treatment, like braces, to fix the issue.

What are space maintainers?

A space maintainer is a custom-made orthodontic appliance that is used in children who have prematurely lost one or more teeth. There are many different types of space maintainers for specific situations. Some are removable, while others are held in place with dental cement until the treatment is complete.

Space maintainers attach to surrounding teeth to hold them in place, preventing the remaining teeth from shifting. While it might seem strange at first, most children adapt quickly to living with their maintainer. A dentist will provide clear instructions on how your child can maintain brushing and cleaning with a space maintainer.

What are partial dentures?

A removable partial denture can be used to replace one or more natural teeth. They’re an option for people of all ages who are missing teeth. They can restore the look and function of your child’s smile, making it easy for them to continue eating and speaking naturally even with missing teeth.

Partial dentures also accomplish the same goal as space maintainers, ensuring the gap left by a missing tooth doesn’t cause other teeth to shift. Space maintainers are made of a variety of different materials that can approximate the appearance, strength, and durability of natural teeth.

Which device is right for different situations?

Every situation is unique, so the only way to know for sure whether your child needs a space maintainer or a partial denture is to let your dentist assess the situation. Many individual factors will affect what is right in any given situation.

Different types of space maintainers will be used depending on the situation. A distal shoe is often used for cases where a permanent molar is emerging. It attaches to the two teeth on either side and requires regular checkups to ensure that the molar emerges properly.

A lingual space maintainer can be cemented to the molars and is a wire that runs along the inside of the lower teeth. This enables it to maintain space for multiple missing teeth at once.

Crown and loop space maintainers are also sometimes an option. They are highly effective and involve placing a crown over one tooth, with a metal loop surrounding the space where another tooth will emerge. This prevents teeth from shifting into that space.

Partial dentures are most commonly used when children are missing multiple teeth in a row. They are also most suitable if there is reason to believe that the permanent tooth will not emerge for some time. They allow the child to maintain their ability to eat and speak naturally, unaffected by the missing tooth.

Living with Space Maintainers or Partial Dentures

Both space maintainers and partial dentures are custom-made for your child. The process often involves the use of both dental imaging technology and traditional impressions. This ensures that your child gets a perfect fit, delivering results while also preventing discomfort or other complications.

Your child may need more frequent checkups while they are wearing the space maintainer or partial dentures. This helps the dentist ensure that the permanent teeth are able to emerge properly and also lets them identify any potential issues during treatment.

Space maintainers and partial dentures both have certain care requirements. The dentist will fully explain these requirements. Removable space maintainers and partial dentures are removed at night and need to be cleaned. Proper brushing is also necessary, and special instructions may be needed to brush around fixed space maintainers.

Certain foods should be avoided, much like for someone who has braces. Particularly hard or sticky foods are generally the most significant thing to avoid with space maintainers and partial dentures.

Dependable Pediatric Dental Care

Pediatric Dental Specialists of Greater Nebraska is a team of pediatric dental specialists near you in Omaha, Hastings, Grand Island, and North Platte, NE. We provide for all of your pediatric dental needs, including space maintainers and partial dentures. Give us a call today to schedule an appointment for your child.