Everyone wants their children to be happy and healthy. Especially in young children, they may never seem that they need to visit the doctor. While this can be true for now, small health problems rooted in childhood can become a bigger issue, if not cared for properly, when they are adults. Dental issues are some examples. You probably know that your child’s baby teeth typically start to fall out at around age six.
Even if your child has loose teeth a lot earlier than that, such as age four, you might think he or she is just on the earlier side of things. This may not seem like a problem, but the premature loss of baby teeth can be the start of a series of oral problems in adulthood.
The good news is that here at Surprise Smiles, we have the perfect solution to this issue. If you are seeing premature tooth loss in your child, please reach out to our professionally trained dentist. That way, the results of the dental exam and all other necessary information about your child will be thoroughly analyzed, and we will provide the best treatment plan to ensure that your child has a happy smile.
What are Space Maintainers and Their Benefits?
Space maintainers are devices made up of metal or acrylic materials that are responsible for leaving sufficient space open for adult teeth to grow. A premature loss of baby teeth can be due to many reasons including genetics, defects, decay, or accidents. Not using space maintainers will most likely result in jagged and uneven teeth as that unreserved space will be taken by surrounding teeth, causing adult teeth to be blocked.
A space maintainer usually will be cemented onto a tooth and will not be removed until the adult tooth is ready to erupt. There is zero discomfort involved in placing and wearing a space maintainer. However, it is possible for the device to become loose or even break if sticky or crunchy foods are consumed. Some examples to avoid are gum, fruit roll-ups, and hard candy. Also, a loose space maintainer can cause irritation. Please be sure to consult with our dentist if this does occur.
If you have worn braces, you probably know that it is not the most pleasant experience. Having space maintainers will significantly reduce the chances of needing braces or orthodontic treatment in the future for your child. They are also a fantastic way to prevent cavities. Most importantly, a set of neat and clean teeth will be a great confidence boost for your child.
Types of Space Maintainers
Space maintainers come in various types. Their flexibility allows them to be customized fully to your child’s needs. We can help you choose the right style of space maintainer for your child.
A removable space maintainer is a good choice if the adult tooth is about ready to grow in. Similar to orthodontic appliances, an artificial tooth will be put in as a placeholder for the adult tooth. As its name implies, removable space maintainers are easy to remove; however, they are not generally as effective as fixed ones.
Fixed space maintainers will permanently hold the space for the adult tooth until we remove them. They mainly come in four types: distal shoe, crown and loop, unilateral, and lingual. A distal shoe is used for very young children that do not have their permanent first molars fully grown yet. After the baby molar falls out, the device will be placed into the gum line, promoting the growth of the adult molar tooth.
Frequent visits to our office will be needed to ensure that this device is working properly. A crown and loop space maintainer involves having a dental crown placed over a decayed abutment tooth as well as a stainless-steel wire loop. The loop then pressures the tooth on the opposite side, keeping open the gap. The crown can be removed once the adult tooth grows in. A common problem with this device is that adjustments can be difficult to do.
Unilateral space maintainers utilize a wire to preserve space between two teeth. A metal loop will be also connected to ensure intact spacing. Finally, lingual space maintainers are useful if your child is missing more than one tooth. They are bilateral devices that can be cemented onto molar teeth. Furthermore, wires and crowns are used to create space across several tooth gaps. These devices are commonly used for missing teeth due to some congenital defect.
Risks and Costs
Although a properly designed space maintainer will comfortably fit into your child’s mouth, it may take some time for him or her to adjust to a foreign object. During this period, your child might damage or move the device, which is not desirable. Good oral hygiene such as frequent brushing and flossing is crucial as plaque and germs can build up if not cleaned properly. This can cause inflammation of the gums and even around the space maintainer.
Regular visits to our office are very much needed to adjust and monitor the device to ensure that it fits well and is not interfering with the growth and eruption of the adult tooth. If a space maintainer is loose, accidental swallowing can even be possible.
A single space maintainer can vary in cost, depending on its type. Your insurance plan and the exact treatment procedure will influence the cost as well. If the premature loss of baby teeth is not cared for properly with space maintainers, the potential costs of braces, teeth cleaning, and many other problems and struggles due to crooked teeth will likely be much more.
There is no need to worry though. Your child’s health is our top priority, and we understand the importance of having a good and clean set of teeth. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us here at Surprise Smiles at (602) 842-4864 today. We are happy to answer any questions you may have about space maintainers for your child to help ensure they have a bright and happy smile throughout their lives!