Is a Space Maintainer Needed for My Child?
A space maintainer is an oral appliance used in pediatric dentistry to quite literally maintain space in a child’s mouth after they experience premature baby tooth loss or extraction.
In this blog, we will be discussing the two types of space maintainers as well as the two instances where your child may need one.
Are There Different Types of Space Maintainers?
There are two primaryand depending on your child’s needs, they will receive a specific one.
Both categories involve fixed appliances, meaning they are not meant to be removed from your child’s mouth unless directed by one of our pediatric dentists.
The two types of space maintainers include:
- Fixed Unilateral Appliances: only maintains space on one side of your child’s mouth. Includes the band and loop maintainer as well as the distal shoe.
- Fixed Bilateral Appliances: placed after teeth are lost on both sides of the mouth. Includes the transpalatal arch (TPA), lingual arch, and Nance arch.
Premature Tooth Loss
Accidents happen and oftentimes, there is nothing you could have done to prevent your child from losing a tooth early. For example, children commonly bump into things and lose their front teeth as they develop their motor skills.
Regardless of how they, it is important that a space maintainer be used as a placeholder for eventual adult teeth.
If a gap is left unattended, nearby teeth will loosen and tilt toward the empty space. This is undesirable as it could cause oral-related issues down the road that will require corrective treatment.
Tooth Extraction Due to Decay
If your child has developed an early childhood cavity and has one or more baby teeth that are badly decayed, we may need to perform a tooth extraction. This removal will improve your child’s oral health but will also create an open space in their mouth.
To prevent adjacent teeth from closing in on this gap and overcrowding, we will recommend a space maintainer. Placement will ensure oral complications do not result because of an extracted baby tooth and space will be held until adult teeth erupt.
Proper Space Maintainer Care
When your child is wearing their space maintainer, it is important that they avoid eating sticky, chewy, or hard foods like gum, taffy, and nuts. These types of foods can damage the appliance and result in either a broken space maintainer or one that needs to be significantly adjusted.
Proper oral hygiene should also continue to be practiced with a space maintainer. Encourage your child to brush their teeth at least twice a day and floss daily to remove unwanted plaque and food particles.
Talk With Us
Has your child recently lost one of their baby teeth ahead of schedule? Out of precaution, it is best if you bring them into our pediatric dental office so we can assess the situation.