How Do Kids Space Maintainers Work?

People often don’t realize the importance of baby teeth. Baby teeth aren’t just for chewing. Each one also acts as a guide for the eruption of the permanent tooth that replaces it.

If a baby tooth is lost too early because of decay or an accident, the teeth beside it may tilt or drift into the empty space. Teeth in the other jaw may move up or down to fill the gap. When adjacent teeth shift into the empty space, they create a lack of space in the jaw for the permanent teeth. So, permanent teeth are crowded and come in crooked. If left untreated, the condition may require extensive orthodontic treatment.

Space maintainers help to maintain the space previously occupied by the missing tooth and works to avoid further space loss. When your child reaches the appropriate age, the spacer will be removed so that the permanent teeth can erupt properly into the mouth. (Remember: Some baby teeth are not replaced until a child is 12 or 14 years old.)

What do kids space maintainers look like?

There are many different types of space maintainers.  The more commonly used ones are named as follows:

  • Band and Loop
  • Nance
  • Lower lingual holding arch

How long will my child wear a kids space maintainer?

Kids space maintainers can be there for a long time, but they are never permanent. They are typically removed when the new, permanent tooth begins to erupt or nearby abutment teeth become loose.

Are space maintainers always necessary?

Not every tooth that is lost too early requires a space maintainer. If one of the four upper or lower front teeth is lost early, the space will stay open on its own until the permanent tooth comes in.

Also, if the permanent tooth is about to erupt soon, the dentist may decide that a space maintainer is not needed unless your child requires braces and space is a critical issue.

Some children may not be able to cooperate during the process of making the space maintainer. Others may be at risk of injury if the space maintainer comes loose or breaks. These include children with diseases that affect how they breathe or swallow, and children who are very young. The ability to cooperate with the dentist is more important than a child’s age. Fortunately, most young children can cooperate for the placement of space maintainers, if needed.

Kids emergency dentist

How are space maintainers made?

Our Paediatric dentists at Specialist Kids Dentist always custom make the space maintainer so that it is the perfect fit for your child’s mouth. If it is a unilateral space maintainer, it can be fashioned on the same day of the appointment. However, if it is bilateral space maintainer measurements as well as an impression need to be taken. These are then sent to a dental lab that will custom make the space maintainer to meet the individual needs of the child.

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 child not to push or tug on the space maintainer with the fingers or tongue.
  • Keep your child’s space maintainer clean through effective brushing and flossing.
  • Your child should continue to see your paediatric dentist for regular dental visits.

To learn more about how kids space maintainers work and if your child may need one to preserve a place for a permanent tooth, contact us at SPECIALIST KIDS DENTIST or visit one of our offices in Liverpool or Summer Hill.