Space maintainers are essential for kids when they have their baby teeth extracted prematurely due to decay, infection or lose their tooth before they are of age. However, space maintainers are more than just something to turn to when your child loses a tooth. These useful additions are an essential part of maintaining your child’s dental health.
Space maintainers are custom-made by orthodontists and dentists. They are made of either metal or acrylic and are either removable or cemented into a child’s mouth. In this way, the maintainer keeps the space open so that a permanent tooth can erupt into the space. Baby teeth play a vital role in developing the jaw muscles and bones, and they guide the development of permanent teeth into position. If the permanent teeth do not get into the right positions when growing back, the child may require orthodontic treatment, or teeth may start growing into any open space. However, not every child who loses their baby teeth too early will require a space maintainer. Only a dentist or orthodontist can determine if your child needs one.
Types of Space Maintainers
Mainly, there are removable and fixed space maintainers.
Removable space maintainers are made of acrylic and can come in the shape of an artificial tooth that fills the space, so it remains open until the permanent tooth erupts.
Fixed space maintainers
Fixed space maintainers are more diverse. There are band and loop or unilateral ones placed on the same side of the mouth, so they hold space for a single tooth. The unilateral one wraps around the tooth’s outside and connects to a metal loop. The work of the metal loop is to hold the tooth intact.
The distal shoe space maintainer is a complex maintainer used in the case where there is an unerupted first permanent molar involved. It is meant to keep the space open, and a dentist monitors it carefully to make sure that the permanent molar erupts properly.
Lingual space retainers are a bilateral type cemented to the molars through a wire on the inside of the lower front teeth. They are best used in cases of more than a single missing tooth.
Procedure for Space Maintainers
The dentist will make the space maintainer and put it in the child’s mouth. However, the child may take some days to get used to the fixed or removable maintainer. The dentist will then explain to the child and parent how to clean the retainer so that the teeth stay free of dental plaque, and the gum tissue remains healthy. The doctor will also issue instructions on essential aspects such as flossing and brushing teeth when there are space maintainers.
Caring for Space Maintainers
As usual, the basics of oral hygiene must be adhered to. This means that you will have to brush your teeth and floss as per the doctor’s instructions. You will also have to avoid sugary and chewy foods and drinks if you have fixed space maintainers, as these may play a role in loosening the maintainer. Avoid pressing and pushing on the retainer as this interferes with the fit of the appliance.
Lastly, ensure that the child visits the dentist regularly. Regular dentist visits are vital because they allow the dentist to monitor the space maintainer treatment progress. The dentist will also set up professional cleaning appointments to ensure that your mouth remains free of cavities and decay.