A Space Maintainer Can Prevent Impacted, Crowded, or Crooked Teeth

Benefits of space maintainers

Dentists recommend space maintainers for kids who have lost one or more of their primary teeth and need space for their new permanent teeth to come in. Sometimes, kids’ teeth don’t come in as quickly as necessary to prevent the shifting of remaining teeth in the mouth. Space maintainers are a highly effective way to prevent overcrowding in the mouth and preserve room for those new pearly whites. This all said, we know you have lots of questions about space maintainers. And don’t worry; we have the answers.

What is a space maintainer?

You may be wondering what a space maintainer is in the first place. Space maintainers are oral devices made of either metal or acrylic that are usually fixed into your child’s mouth to create space for more teeth. Removable space maintainers look more like your typical orthodontic appliances and occasionally have an artificial tooth to help complete a smile until that new tooth works its way in.

Your kid’s dentist near Lawton, OK, may recommend one of four types of space maintainers.

  1. Unilateral space maintainer – These devices fit on one side of the mouth and wrap around an existing tooth. A metal loop extends into the space left by the missing tooth to hold the space for future use.
  2. Crown and loop maintainer – This type of space maintainer uses a dental crown over the existing tooth instead of wrapping around it like a unilateral space maintainer.
  3. Lingual space maintainer – This device is used if your child is missing more than one baby tooth. The maintainer is affixed to the insides of the molars and connected via a metal wire to your child’s lower front teeth.
  4. Distal shoe space maintainer – This final maintainer is inserted into the gumline to preserve space for a permanent tooth erupting through the gumline. These maintainers are used specifically for the first permanent molar.

Why does my child need a space maintainer?

Occasionally, kids lose their teeth ahead of the game. And, you can’t ignore premature tooth loss because it can cause further issues for your child later. These issues include permanent teeth not having enough room to grow correctly, or adult teeth could come in crooked if the space made available for them is too large. Space maintainers keep that empty space open so your child’s mouth can develop naturally and have enough space to develop permanent teeth.

Here are the scenarios in which your child’s dentist might recommend a space maintainer.

  • Your child has a tooth extracted due to cavities.
  • There has been dental trauma, and tooth loss has occurred due to the resulting injuries.
  • Your child has over-retained baby teeth (baby teeth have loosened and then tightened back into the gums).

Thankfully, the process of getting a fixed space maintainer is easy (the process for a removable maintainer is similar). 

  • The dentist will take an impression of your child’s mouth.
  • The impression will be sent to a lab that will construct the custom space maintainer.
  • Your child will return to the dentist for a second appointment, where a metal band will be placed around the tooth adjacent to the missing one.
  • A loop or brace will be affixed over the gumline where the missing tooth was situated and rest against the tooth remaining in front of the space.

Once the band is cemented to your child’s tooth, it prevents the teeth from moving into the gap left behind by the missing tooth. This effectively allows enough room for the adult tooth to come in. 

What are the benefits of a space maintainer?

Most parents have heard of braces and retainers, but oftentimes, parents haven’t heard of space maintainers until they find out that their child might need one. Hence, parents often don’t understand the benefits that space maintainers can provide. Here is a list of those benefits.

  • Keeps your child’s adjacent teeth in the correct position 
  • Encourages the proper eruption of your child’s adult teeth through the gumline
  • Lessens the need for braces down the road (though the use of a space maintainer does not guarantee your child will not need braces)
  • Causes no pain, and most kids adjust to their placement in just a few days
  • Option to choose between the right type of space maintainer based on their dental situation—fixed or removable option
  • Limits future concerns such as crowding, impaction, crossbite, overbite, and other potential orthodontic problems
  • Can save your child from pain, embarrassment, or the inability to chew and talk well
  • Saves money for parents by eliminating otherwise unnecessary orthodontic work in the future

Contact your kids’ dentist near Lawton, OK, for more information about space maintainers.

A space maintainer might be perfect if your child has impacted, crowded, or crooked teeth. Request an appointment with Sheppard Family Dental Care to discuss options for your child and to protect their oral health. We look forward to seeing you.