A space maintainer is used to “hold” open space after tooth extraction so that other teeth do not shift into the now-empty spot and cause misalignment issues. At Restoration Smiles: Adult & Pediatric Dentistry, we use space maintainers that are typically metal or plastic and look just like retainers. Most children wear theirs until all their permanent teeth have come in, and then they are replaced with traditional braces. Adults who lose a permanent tooth or need to have one extracted can expect to wear a space maintainer for anywhere from a few months to a few years.
A space maintainer is designed to keep teeth from shifting into the space when a baby tooth is lost prematurely. This can allow the adult tooth to come in properly and prevent other problems from occurring, such as crowding or misalignment. However, some children may not need this device, and the dentist may recommend waiting for the child to grow more before considering a space maintainer.
The Benefits of Space Maintainers
Many patients benefit from using space maintainers after a tooth is lost prematurely or removed due to decay. These appliances help to prevent surrounding teeth from drifting and crowding together, a common issue that leads to alignment problems or other complications later on.
If you’ve lost a baby tooth before it was supposed to fall out of the mouth naturally, a space maintainer may be needed to prevent the neighboring adult tooth from moving into the space left behind. In older children, the appliance is used when a permanent tooth fails to emerge at all and to prevent more severe problems from occurring down the road.
In addition to keeping teeth in line, these devices should positively affect speech development later in life.
What Conditions Commonly Require the Use of Space Maintainers?
Extraction Because of Cavities
Children's teeth are prone to cavities, which are holes or structural damage to the teeth. Tooth decay caused by bacteria in plaque is one of the leading causes of cavities. As plaque accumulates on the tooth's surface, bacteria generate an acid that can erode the tooth enamel, the tooth's outer solid coating. This exposes the tooth to damage further and deterioration, resulting in cavities.
If left untreated, the decay caused by cavities can force the child to have the afflicted tooth extracted. This procedure will leave a gap between your child's other teeth. Spacers will be required for baby teeth in this condition to retain the teeth in their proper places. Without a space maintainer, neighboring teeth still in the mouth can migrate into the newly vacated space, preventing the developing permanent tooth remaining below the gums from growing into the right area.
Injuries That Result in Tooth Loss
Youngsters like being active and playing with their friends. But accidents sometimes occur and can result in tooth loss. Your child will require a space maintainer when a tooth is lost due to an injury. This retainer will prevent the remaining teeth from moving and crowding into the space. This will also guarantee that the adult tooth comes in correctly.
To learn more about space maintainers, contact Restoration Smiles: Adult & Pediatric Dentistry at 2 Coolidge St, Suite 202, Hudson, MA 01749, or call (508) 658-0661.
In addition to keeping teeth in line, these devices should positively affect speech development later in life. To learn more about space maintainers, contact Restoration Smiles: Adult & Pediatric Dentistry at 2 Coolidge St, Suite 202, Hudson, MA 01749, or call (508) 658-0661.