If your child’s tooth has come out too soon because of decay or an accident, it is vital to maintain the space to prevent future space loss and dental problems when permanent teeth begin to come in.
Without the use of a space maintainer, the teeth that surround the open space can shift, and impede the permanent tooth’s eruption. When that happens, the need for orthodontic treatment may become greater.
Types of Space Maintainers
Space maintainers can be made of stainless steel and/or plastic, and can be removable or fixed (cemented to the teeth).
A removable space maintainer looks much like a retainer with plastic blocks to fill in where the tooth is missing. If your child is older and can reliably follow directions, a removable space maintainer can be a good option.
Fixed space maintainers come in many designs.
A band-and-loop maintainer is made of stainless steel wire and held in place by a crown or band on the tooth adjacent to the empty space. The wire is attached to the crown or loop and rests against the side of the tooth on the other end of the space.
A lingual arch is used on the lower arch when two or more teeth are lost. A wire is placed on the lingual (tongue) side of the arch and is attached to bands on the molars. This prevents the teeth from shifting backward into the gap.
A palatal button is used on the upper arch. Bands on the molars attach to an acrylic pad or “button” that rests against the palate.
Caring for Your Child’s Space Maintainer
There are four general rules for taking care of your child’s appliance.
- Your child should avoid sticky foods, including candy and chewing gum.
- Encourage your son or daughter not to push or tug on the space maintainer with the fingers or tongue.
- Keep your youngster’s space maintainer clean through effective brushing and flossing.
- If the space maintainer loosens or comes out, keep it. Call our office immediately to have it recemented.
- Your child should continue to see Dr. Verhagen for regular dental visits.