Children may need space maintainers if they lose a tooth early or have a baby tooth extracted due to dental decay.
A space maintainer is an appliance that is custom-made by a dentist or orthodontist in acrylic or metal material. It can be either removable or cemented in a child's mouth.
Its purpose is to keep the space open to allow the permanent tooth to erupt and come into place. Baby teeth are important to the development of the teeth, jaw bones and muscles and help to guide permanent teeth into position when the baby teeth are lost. If a space is not maintained, then teeth can shift into the open space and orthodontic treatment may be required. Not every child who loses a baby tooth early or to dental decay requires a space maintainer; however, a professional consultation with your dentist or orthodontist should be conducted to determine if using a space maintainer is needed.
Types of Space Maintainers There are two types of space maintainers for children, removable and fixed.
Removable space maintainersare similar to orthodontic appliances and are usually made of acrylic. In some cases, an artificial tooth may be used to fill a space that must remain open for the unerupted tooth.
Fixed space maintainersare four different kinds- unilateral, crown and loop, distal shoe and lingual.
Wearing the Space Maintainer
Once the space maintainer is made by the dentist or orthodontist, it may take the child a few days to get accustomed to wearing the appliance whether it is removable or fixed. It is important to keep the space maintainer clean by maintaining proper oral hygiene in order to keep the gum tissue healthy and free of dental plaque. The child should be seen by the dentist or orthodontist on a regular basis to monitor the progress of treatment with the space maintainer.