Your child’s baby teeth might only be temporary, but that doesn’t mean that they are not important. These temporary teeth have some very important jobs. One of their most important jobs is holding space in your child’s mouth when the adult teeth are ready to come in. By holding the space, the adult teeth are better able to erupt into proper alignment. The baby teeth eventually fall out on their own as the adult teeth are ready to come in. However, there are some instances when the baby teeth fall out too early. When this happens, your child is at risk for issues with the eruption of the adult teeth. Gallatin Valley Pediatric Dentistry can help to reduce the risk for these issues with space maintainers.
The Importance of Space Maintenance
So, if the baby teeth eventually fall out on their own, why is space maintenance so important? The problem with premature tooth loss is that it can affect how the adult teeth eventually erupt. The surrounding baby teeth can begin to drift out of alignment, blocking the path of the adult tooth. If surrounding adult teeth come in first, they can grow into the space meant for the other tooth. This can lead to crooked teeth, overcrowding, and other issues. Maintaining the space left behind by a prematurely lost baby tooth can help to prevent these issues and ensure proper eruption of the adult teeth.
Fixed Space Maintainers
A fixed space maintainer is an appliance that is fixed onto the healthy teeth. There are a few different types of fixed space maintainers, including a band and loop space maintainer, a lingual arch, and a distal shoe. Fixed space maintainers are generally recommended for younger children. They are secured into place, which prevents your child from fidgeting with them. They are fairly strong, but we advise avoiding sticky foods as they can pull a fixed space maintainer loose. You also don’t have to worry about your child accidentally misplacing their space maintainer.
Removable Space Maintainers
A removable space maintainer is one that your child can take out of their mouth. If it is holding the space of a front tooth, there may be false teeth attached to fill in the empty space, so your child’s smile is restored. Removable space maintainers may be worn by older children who can handle the responsibility of caring for their appliances.
How Long Will My Child Need a Space Maintainer?
The length of time your child will need to wear their space maintainer will depend upon your child. It will depend upon when the tooth was lost and where the tooth was located. For instance, the front teeth are lost first, while the molars are lost later. We closely monitor the development of adult teeth. When the adult tooth under the preserved space is ready to start erupting, the space maintainer will be removed.
If your child has suffered premature tooth loss, a space maintainer can help to preserve the space in their jaw for their developing adult teeth. For more information, and to find out if your child can benefit from a space maintainer, call Gallatin Valley Pediatric Dentistry at 406-224-4272 today.