A space maintainer is a small dental retainer made of metal. It attaches your child’s teeth and helps maintain the gap between them after they’ve lost a baby tooth prematurely. While baby teeth are supposed to fall out naturally, early baby tooth loss can cause problems with your child’s oral development. With a space maintainer from Dr. Britni Kearns at Sycamore Smiles Pediatric Dentistry, you can ensure that your child’s adult teeth will grow into their mouth properly. Contact us now to schedule a consultation.
First, Dr. Kearns will examine your child’s mouth to determine if a space maintainer is necessary. In some cases, they may not need a space maintainer. For example, if they lose a baby tooth early but their permanent tooth will erupt soon, a space maintainer may not be needed.
If Dr. Kearns recommends a space maintainer for your child, she will take impressions of your child’s mouth. Next, she will work with a dental lab to build a custom, non-removable space maintainer. You’ll return in a few weeks, and she will place the space maintainer in your child’s mouth. Then, you and your little one will be sent home.
Dr. Kearns will check on your child’s oral health and their space maintainer at every six-month checkup. When the adult tooth below the space maintainer is about to erupt, you’ll come back to our office to have the space maintainer removed. This takes only a few minutes.
First and foremost, a space maintainer helps prevent teeth from shifting after tooth loss. Baby teeth are meant to fall out as your child grows to be replaced by adult teeth. This happens naturally as the adult tooth begins to erupt through the gums.
If your child has a baby tooth extracted or knocked out before it’s supposed to fall out, then it may be too early for the adult tooth to grow in. This can cause the nearby teeth to begin shifting toward the open space in your child’s smile, which can interfere with the eruption of their adult tooth in the future. Space maintainers stop teeth from shifting after premature tooth loss, preventing this issue entirely.
If your child loses one or more baby teeth early and their teeth shift, their adult teeth can erupt improperly or become stuck in the gums. This may lead to the need for orthodontic treatments like braces later in your child’s life. Space maintainers may not completely eliminate the need for orthodontics, but they can definitely reduce the chance that your child will need treatment.
Not at all. Space maintainers are made of smooth metal, and they do not place pressure on your child’s teeth. They rest gently against your child’s teeth to keep the nearby teeth from moving into the empty gap in their smile. Your child’s mouth may feel funny for a day or two as they get used to their space maintainer, but it won’t hurt.
Space maintainers are easy to care for. Your child won’t have to change their oral hygiene routine, all they have to do is brush and floss their teeth normally. However, your child should avoid very sticky candies and be sure to come to Sycamore Smiles Pediatric Dentistry for a checkup with Dr. Kearns every six months, so that she can keep an eye on their space maintainer and developing adult teeth.