Parents cannot dictate completely whether or not a child gets crooked teeth because there are hereditary factors that certainly play a large role. But, there are certain things that can be done to increase the likelihood of a child’s teeth growing in straight. This avoids the need for teeth straightening.By having a full understanding of…
What Are Space Maintainers?
Are you looking for more information on space maintainers? A space maintainer is an orthodontic appliance made out of metal or acrylic material that is custom-made by dentists to hold a space for permanent teeth when children prematurely lose their baby teeth.
The space maintainer guides the permanent teeth into their proper position, preventing the teeth from shifting or drifting into a space reserved for other teeth.
Types of space maintainers
There are two types of space maintainers used by dentists, the fixed space maintainer and the removable space maintainer.
Fixed space maintainers
These space maintainers are cemented into place to hold a space for permanent teeth until they erupt from your child’s gums. The three different types of fixed space maintainers frequently used by dentists are:
- Lingual: This space maintainer is used if your child has more than one missing tooth. It is usually cemented to molar teeth, connected by a wire wrapped around the inside of the lower front teeth.
- Distal shoe: This space maintainer is used to hold space for your child’s first permanent molar tooth. Unlike other space maintainers, the metal used is inserted into your child’s gum line to prevent the space from closing. Since the metal is inserted into the gums, your dentist will require you to bring your child in for routine checkups to monitor the progress of the erupting tooth and make sure it shifts into its proper place.
- Unilateral: This space maintainer is also known as the crown and loop. It is attached to only one side of the mouth and is put in place to hold space for a single tooth. The space maintainer is wrapped around the outside of a tooth then connected to a metal loop that keeps the space intact.
Removable space maintainers
Removable space maintainers do the same job as their fixed counterparts. However, instead of being made from metal, they are made of acrylic and can be taken out at any time. If your dentist is worried about your child losing bone density in their jaw, they will recommend using an artificial tooth to fill the space until the permanent tooth erupts.
How long does my child have to wear space maintainers?
The answer to this question depends on the child. Some children’s permanent teeth come out quickly while others do not. In some cases, your child will have to wear the space maintainers for months and in other cases, it could take a few years.
Caring for space maintainers
Unlike other orthodontic devices like braces, space maintainers, especially removable ones, are not very durable, which is why you need to make sure your child takes proper care of their maintainer. Here are a few tips to help your child take care of their space maintainer.
- Stay away from sticky foods and candy
- Avoid biting down on hard foods like apples and carrots
- Do not tamper with the maintainer using their tongue, fingers or other objects
- Practice good oral hygiene
The bottom line
Space maintainers help to guide your child’s permanent teeth into the right space and can save you a lot of money on future orthodontic treatments. If your child has started to lose their baby teeth, schedule an appointment with your dentist to find out whether they need to get space maintainers.
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