One of the most important functions of baby teeth is paving the way for the adult teeth to grow in. Each baby tooth forms and maintains a space which will one day hold an adult tooth. Normally, your child's teeth will not fall out until the ones below them are ready to grow in. But occasionally, due to accidents, disease, or tooth decay, a baby tooth may fall out or have to be removed before the adult tooth is ready. In some cases, a child's baby tooth may never have grown in at all. Whenever a baby tooth is prematurely missing, in order to prevent problems with the future adult tooth, Smile Time Kids may recommend a space maintainer.
A space maintainer is a small appliance custom-made to fit your child's teeth. Its job is to keep the space between your child's teeth open and ready for a new tooth to emerge. In that role, it takes the place of the missing baby tooth until the new tooth has developed.
There are several types of space maintainers, and their use depends on the position of the lost tooth and on your child's development and dental hygiene. A space maintainer can be removable, or cemented in place in much the same way that braces are. It can be made of metal, plastic, or both. It may attach to one or more of your child's teeth, or may run behind them. Where the missing tooth is highly visible, the space maintainer may include a prosthetic tooth to make the gap less obvious and keep your child's smile beautiful. No matter the type of space maintainer, each is custom-fitted to your child's mouth, to ensure that their teeth will remain healthy and straight.
It is always important to make sure that space is maintained in the mouth. Without something to take the place of a missing tooth, the teeth on either side of the gap or even the ones in the opposite jaw can drift or lean into the open space. This causes problems for the new tooth when it's finally ready to grow in, and may lead to it coming in crooked, or even erupting in the wrong position. Once the teeth have drifted, they can only be corrected by extensive orthodontic treatment, which is time-consuming, uncomfortable, and costly. The use of a space maintainer can prevent the need for such correction, and is usually the best option in dealing with a prematurely lost baby tooth. If your child is missing a tooth due to accident or decay, call our office or request an appointment online as soon as possible, and Smile Time Kids will do thier best to keep your child's teeth in line.
When a baby tooth is lost, the space left will serve as a guide for an adult tooth to grow in. If a baby tooth is lost early, it may be necessary to consider using a space maintainer.Request an Appointment