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What is the Purpose of Space Maintainers?
One method of plugging a gap between teeth is to use space maintainers. If your child is injured or loses their primary teeth before their permanent teeth have a chance to grow in, he or she risks developing dental problems if the resulting area between the teeth is not filled.
What is the purpose of space maintainers?
In children, primary teeth grow before permanent teeth. These primary teeth need to fall out before permanent teeth can grow in their place. However, if a primary tooth falls out too early, it creates a gap that can displace the location of permanent teeth when they grow in.
Space maintainers are a way to prevent this displacement from happening by creating proper space for permanent teeth to grow naturally. If a primary tooth is knocked out because of injury or some other cause, a space maintainer may be called for so permanent teeth can grow properly. Space maintainers also prevent other primary teeth from shifting into the gap where the primary tooth needs to grow. If the gap exists for too long without a permanent tooth filling in, other primary teeth can become loose, and dental problems may result.
There are two types of space maintainers: fixed and removable. Fixed space maintainers are the most commonly used type, as they cannot be removed without the aid of a professional. Removable space maintainers are an option, but they are not as frequently used because children can easily lose them or forget to put them in. An advantage of removable space maintainers is that they are easier to clean than the fixed variety. This type may be more appropriate for older children who are better able to follow instructions. However, they are generally not used if the lost tooth is a back tooth.
Removable space maintainers are made of acrylic and act as artificial teeth. Fixed maintainers attach to the teeth beside the gap and are fitted with dental cement.
Space maintainers, whether fixed or removable, require frequent cleaning and special care. If your child has a space maintainer, it might be a good time to introduce him or her to proper oral hygiene that can be used throughout life. Your child should limit his or her consumption of sugary or acidic food and drinks and visit a dentist at least twice a year.
If several primary teeth are missing and a space maintainer is not sufficient to fill the gap, partial dentures may be used instead.
Your child may experience mild discomfort when a space maintainer is installed. However, this is far less painful than the experience of permanent teeth failing to grow properly and the necessary treatment if this happens.
Space maintainers are an effective and useful way to prevent dental problems for children who lose their primary teeth too early.
A dentist has the skills necessary to install and maintain a space maintainer so that it causes minimal discomfort to your child. Contact our office today to discuss the possible options for keeping your child’s smile happy and healthy.
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