Baby teeth are for more than just biting and chewing. They also act as space holders for permanent teeth. If your child loses a baby tooth before the permanent tooth is ready to erupt, it could drift to the wrong position in the mouth. Adjacent teeth can also move or tilt inward, taking up space meant for the permanent tooth.
A space maintainer is an ideal way to combat these problems with premature tooth loss. The maintainer keeps the space open until the permanent tooth erupts, which might only be a few weeks or months from now. It can also be used for years if a permanent tooth is missing. Dr. Evanson can provide advice regarding your child’s oral development and recommend a certain type of space maintainer.
What Causes Baby Teeth to Fall Out Prematurely?
There are several reasons why this can happen:
- A baby tooth may be knocked out in an accident.
- Severe decay may call for a tooth extraction.
- A disease may cause a tooth to fall out.
- A congenital defect may cause permanent teeth to never erupt.
Keep in mind – not every tooth that your child loses early requires a space maintainer. For instance, if any of the four upper front teeth fall out, the space will stay open on its own until the permanent tooth erupts. If a permanent tooth is nearly ready to erupt when the baby tooth falls out, a spacer is usually only required if your child needs braces and space is a critical issue.
Types of Space Maintainers
Depending on your child’s situation, Dr. Evanson may recommend different types of space maintainers. Your options include:
Fixed band-and-loop maintainer
As a fixed option, this type of maintainer remains in the mouth at all times. A band-and-loop maintainer is made of stainless steel wire. A crown or orthodontic band on the tooth next to the gap holds the maintainer in place. A wire loop attached to the crown or band stretches across the gap and just barely touches the tooth on the other side. The loop prevents tooth movement and leaves enough space for a permanent tooth to erupt without crowding.
Fixed lingual arch
This maintainer is often needed when back teeth are missing on both sides of the lower jaw. It features bands wrapped around the teeth located behind the gap. A wire connects to these bands and runs along the inside of the bottom teeth to maintain space for permanent teeth on both sides of the jaw.
Fixed distal shoe appliance
This maintainer is used if your child loses the baby teeth in front of where the six-year molars have yet to erupt. The appliance has a metal wire that is inserted slightly under the gums to keep the space from closing. A distal shoe appliance is a less common solution because it requires regular adjustments to ensure it doesn’t block the six-year molars from erupting properly.
Resembling a retainer, this option uses an artificial tooth or plastic block to fill in the space. Removable maintainers work well in older children where the missing tooth is noticeable when they smile. This can be a lasting solution if one or more permanent teeth are missing.
Removable partial denture
If your child is missing several permanent teeth, especially from a congenital disease called ectodermal dysplasia, he or she can wear a removable partial denture into adulthood to fill in the gaps with artificial teeth. At 16 or 18 years old when the jaw is finished growing, dental implants or a bridge are options to replace the missing teeth.
If you think your child has lost a tooth prematurely, please contact Evanson DDS online or call us at (720) 409-0008 to set up an appointment for your child. We’ll talk about your options and work out a solution that will work best for you and your child.Leave a reply →