Space Maintainers

While you can’t always tell, it’s fairly common for young kids to have early dental issues even before their permanent teeth erupt. That’s why it’s so important to bring your kids to the dentist by the time their baby teeth start coming in. When your pediatric dentist discovers a potential problem with crooked teeth, dental space maintainers can solve the problem early. In Woodbridge, New Jersey, in Harlem, NY or on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, the call the best kids’ dental team at Tiny Smiles Pediatric Dentistry today to set up that first appointment. Save your kids pain and strife, and save yourself some money with early intervention and preventative dental care.

What Is a Dental Space Maintainer?

Losing baby teeth is a natural part of growing up. But if your child loses primary teeth before permanent adult teeth are ready to come in, it can lead to other dental problems. To prevent these problems, your New York City or New Jersey pediatric dentist may recommend a dental space maintainer, a device that holds the space that was left by the teeth that were lost prematurely.

Space maintainers are custom-fitted to your child’s mouth. They are designed to keep other baby teeth in place until permanent teeth are ready to move into place where they belong. Consult the child dental experts at Tiny Smiles Pediatric Dentistry if your child has lost primary teeth earlier than expected to find out if your child needs a dental space maintainer.

Why Does a Child Lose Primary Teeth Early?

In most children, primary teeth begin to erupt between the ages of six months and a year old. Most baby teeth have arrived by the age of three, and these teeth are gradually lost between the ages of six and twelve years old. There are several possible reasons for tooth loss before adult teeth are ready to emerge, such as:

  • One or more teeth are knocked out suddenly from a trauma, such as a trip and fall or sports injury
  • Teeth that are sometimes missing because of genetics
  • Your dentist has had to perform a tooth extraction because of cavities or another dental problem

Baby teeth function as guides for permanent teeth to grow in correctly. It’s important to consider the impact on permanent teeth if baby teeth are lost early for any reason.

Are There Different Types of Space Maintainers?

Dental space maintainers usually are made of acrylic or metal. Your NY or NJ pediatric dentist recommends the best type of space maintainer for your child based on the number and location of missing teeth. The two choices include:

Removable.

Removable devices work better in older children who can remove and insert the device and keep it clean. These devices are made of acrylic or plastic and may use artificial teeth to hold the space needed between teeth.

Fixed

Fixed devices are made of stainless steel and are fixed in place to the teeth beside the gap using dental cement. Those that are fixed on one side are called unilateral while those that are fixed on both sides are called bilateral.

Dental appliances are made by taking an impression of the child’s mouth and sending the impression to a dental laboratory to be manufactured. For a fixed space maintainer, your dentist removes the space maintainer when it’s time for the permanent tooth to erupt. Since some permanent teeth don’t emerge until around the age of 14, a space maintainer may stay in place for several years.

How Do I Care for a Dental Space Maintainer?

It may take a little bit of time for your child to adjust to a dental space maintainer, but there’s usually no pain associated with them. When a space maintainer is intended to stay in place for several years, it must be taken care of. It’s not difficult to care for a dental space maintainer, but parents should make sure their children:

  • Brush and floss regularly to keep the dental appliance clean and the teeth healthy
  • Avoid eating sticky candy or chewing gum
  • Avoid biting hard foods
  • Don’t tug or push on the space maintainer

Call your NJ or NYC pediatric dentist right away if the space maintainer comes loose. Continue to have your child visit the dentist for preventative care twice a year, which also helps keep the dental space maintainer in good condition.

What Happens if a Dental Space Maintainer Isn’t Used?

Proper positioning of permanent teeth is a big part of dental health. If primary teeth are lost early and a dental space maintainer isn’t used, there are several possible complications that can affect permanent teeth, including:

  • Nearby teeth may lean into the vacant space and grow in crookedly.
  • Permanent teeth may erupt into an area they’re not supposed to be, which can block other teeth from emerging or cause severe crowding.
  • Nearby teeth may loosen because they’re no longer supported properly.
  • Newly emerged teeth may appear crooked or misaligned, making it more likely that your child needs orthodontic care in the future.
  • The risk of tooth decay increases.
  • Crowded teeth can also hamper your child’s ability to chew or speak properly, affecting their self-esteem.

Taking care of baby teeth is an important step toward having healthy teeth in adulthood. Contact Tiny Smiles Pediatric Dentistry, the best choice for comprehensive dental care — in Woodbridge, NJ, the Lower East Side or Harlem, NYC. Whether you’re looking to set up a first visit or suspect your child has early dental problems, you’ll find the most skilled and compassionate care at Tiny Smiles Pediatric Dentistry.

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