Baby teeth may be temporary, but they play a large role in the development of your child’s oral health. In addition to being used to bite, chew, and speak, baby teeth also help guide permanent teeth into the proper position.
However, disease or injury may cause your child to lose a tooth prematurely. Without the baby tooth there to hold the space, a permanent tooth may drift into the area that should be occupied by another tooth. When this happens, it may start a chain reaction causing teeth to become blocked or to erupt out of position, resulting in crowded or crooked teeth.
In these cases, your child may benefit from a special appliance known as a space maintainer.
Space maintainers are appliances made of metal and/or plastic that are used to hold the space open until the proper tooth comes in.
Space maintainers come in two variations: fixed or removable.
Fixed appliances are attached to adjacent teeth using cement. There’s a variety of ways to attach a fixed appliance, but the goal is to fix it firmly so that it doesn’t move. Fixed space maintainers are good choices for younger children, who may try to play with or remove something in their mouths.
Removable appliances resemble orthodontic retainers. They may have a false tooth on them, which can be used to temporarily replace the missing tooth. Older children usually have no problem responsibly caring for removable space maintainers.
Regardless of whether your child will use a fixed or removable space maintainer, impressions of your child’s mouth will be used to design a custom-fit appliance. Your child should wear the appliance until his or her dentist determines that the new tooth is ready to erupt.
In some cases, one or more permanent teeth may never develop. Since dental implants are generally not an option for a growing child, a space maintainer may be used to fill the gap until jaw growth is complete (after which an implant may be placed). The appliance helps make sure that the mouth and jaw continue their proper development.
If you think your child would benefit from a space maintainer, don’t hesitate to contact the Yuba City Dentistry Group today to set up an appointment. A dentist will be happy to review your child’s case and suggest appropriate treatment options.
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