A child may lose a baby tooth even before their adult teeth are supposed to grow in. While at that moment, it might not seem like a significant problem, but it can lead to more problems if not appropriately maintained. Devices called space maintainers can allow their adult teeth to erupt unhindered.

If your child’s tooth is lost prematurely, you should plan a dental visit. At Sedro-Woolley Family Dental Center, we can examine your child’s mouth and tooth structure to help place a space maintainer.

What Is a Space Maintainer?

Space maintainers are dental devices used to keep other teeth from moving into the gap left by baby teeth that have been lost too soon, allowing permanent teeth to emerge freely. It is vital to take action because not taking care of a gap could lead to expensive problems in the future.

Premature loss of primary baby teeth occurs because of any one of a number of reasons, including decay, accidents, trauma, or congenital disabilities. Based on your child’s dental condition, we can recommend a suitable type of space maintainer.

Why Should a Space Maintainer Be Used?

The primary teeth of your child allow them to eat and chew properly. However, there are several other functions of primary teeth. They serve as guides to make sure that permanent teeth emerge in their correct positions. If a primary tooth is lost too early, the permanent tooth could erupt in the wrong place. It could also lead to the shifting or tilting of neighboring teeth into the gap that should otherwise have been preserved for the permanent tooth that will emerge later.

What Are the Different Kinds of Space Maintainers?

Fixed Space Maintainers: A fixed space maintainer is a temporary tooth fixture that reserves sufficient space for the adult tooth to erupt. It can be removed after the emergence of an adult tooth. Fixed space maintainers come in four types:

Crown and Loop: These devices consist of a crown and a steel wire loop. The loop puts pressure against the tooth on the opposite side and keeps the gap open. The crown is removed after the growth of the permanent tooth.

Distal Shoe: They are used for permanent first molars that have not erupted. These maintainers require more care and professional attention.

Lingual: These maintainers are composed of wire and crowns that maintain spacing across several tooth gaps. These devices are employed if a child is missing teeth due to a congenital disability.

Unilateral: Similar to a crown and loop treatment, this method uses a wire to preserve space between two teeth. What makes unilateral maintainers different is that a wire is wound around the teeth on each side of the gap.

Removable Space Maintainers: A removable space maintainer can be an apt solution if your child’s tooth is almost ready to emerge. These appliances can be customized for your child’s needs.

If you have any queries about which type of maintainer is best for your child, call Sedro-Woolley Family Dental Center in Sedro-Woolley, WA 98284 at (360) 855-0351 and schedule an appointment.