A space maintainer is an orthodontic device used to keep the space free for permanent teeth to grow after children lose their baby teeth prematurely. It is made of stainless steel or plastic and can be tailored to each child's specific needs. A space maintainer's role is to keep other teeth from drifting into the space once held by baby teeth.
Space maintainers, like other orthodontic devices, require special attention to ensure proper and long-term functioning. You must ensure that your child avoids sugary, sticky, and hard foods, does not tamper the maintainer, and practices good oral hygiene.
Types of Space Maintainer
Dentists use two types of space maintainers: removable and fixed space maintainers.
1. Removable Space Maintainers
A removable space maintainer is temporarily placed on the gums and, as the name implies, can be removed by the patient at any time. A removable device is composed of acrylic materials and, like other orthodontic devices, can be customized to meet the needs of each child.
Pediatric dentists recommend the removable device if permanent teeth are ready to grow in, which can be verified via dental X-rays. Removable space maintainers do not work as well as permanent space maintainers, but they do assist children in maintaining good oral hygiene practices.
2. Fixed Space Maintainers
A fixed space maintainer, as opposed to removable maintainers, is made of stainless steel and is cemented into place on either side to protect the space for permanent teeth. It is also known as a semi-permanent device as it can be removed by the dentist after the permanent teeth have grown in.
Fixed space maintainers are classified into four types:
- Crown and Loop Space Maintainer – The crown and loop maintainer are made of a dental crown and a stainless steel wire loop and can accommodate a single tooth. The crown is placed over an abutment tooth and linked to a steel wire loop that presses against the other abutment tooth to keep the space intact.
- Distal Shoe Space Maintainer – A distal shoe device is utilized when a child is very young and his or her permanent molar teeth have yet to grow. It is implanted into the gum line to hold the space while the permanent molar grows. The device necessitates greater attention and you will need to make regular appointments with your child's pediatric dentist to monitor molar surfacing.
- Lingual Space Maintainer – A lingual maintainer device is used if your child loses more than one tooth. Crowns are cemented to both sides of the molar teeth and are linked by a wire that wraps around the inside of the lower front teeth.
- Unilateral Space Maintainer – The unilateral device is identical to the crown and loop device except the unilateral wire is wrapped around the teeth on either side of the missing tooth.
Does My Child Need Space Maintainers?
Every time one of your children's teeth falls out, they do not need a space maintainer. However, children frequently lose their baby teeth before their permanent teeth are ready to grow out. It could happen as a result of a variety of factors, including accidental trauma, disease, congenital anomalies, or tooth decay.
Only in those cases do they require a space maintainer to ensure that permanent teeth can grow without pushing behind or in front of neighboring teeth.
When children lose their baby teeth prematurely, it may not appear to be a big problem at first. However, if left untreated, it can lead to serious dental issues later on, such as misaligned teeth, impacted teeth, or a bad bite. All of this is not only painful but also highly expensive.
Space Maintainers Near Me
If you are looking for a pediatric dentist in Eden Prairie, MN, Anderson Lake Dental Clinic is the best dental clinic with the most qualified dental health professionals. We have a wide range of skills that allow us to provide the highest quality early orthodontic care for your children.
Visit Anderson Lake Dental Clinic in Eden Prairie, MN, and discuss with one of our pediatric dentists which space maintainer is best for your child's oral health.