Why Your Child May Need a Space Maintainer?

Posted on May 26, 2012 in Dental Articles

Children may need space maintainers if they lose a tooth early or have a baby tooth extracted due to dental decay. For either case, it is important to know the benefits of using a space maintainer and how it can help support your child’s dental health.

A space maintainer is an appliance that is custom-made by a dentist or orthodontist in acrylic or metal material. It can be either removable or cemented in a child’s mouth. Its purpose is to keep the space open to allow the permanent tooth to erupt and come into place.

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Fig. A: The baby tooth helps to guide the adult tooth to erupt into position.
 
What will happen if the space is not maintained?
Baby teeth are important to the development of the teeth, jaw bones and muscles and help to guide permanent teeth into position when the baby teeth are lost. Baby teeth guides the adult teeth to grow into the correct position. As the baby tooth drops, the adult tooth moves in to take its place (see fig. A)
 
图片If the baby tooth drops or is extracted pre-maturely, the adjacent teeth could shift and begin to fill the vacant space in between. When your child’s permanent teeth emerge, there is not enough room for them (see fig. B). The result is crooked or crowded teeth and difficulties with chewing or speaking.
 
 
 
              Fig. B

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A space maintainer hence helps to keep the space empty for the permanent tooth to erupt (Fig. C). Whilst wearing the space maintainer, see your dentist every every 6 months, as he will be able to determine when the permanent tooth is about to emerge, and promptly remove the space maintainer for its arrival!

 
 
              Fig. C
 
Not every child who loses a baby tooth early or to dental decay requires a space maintainer; however, a professional consultation with your dentist or orthodontist should be conducted to determine if using a space maintainer is needed.
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A Space Maintainer on a Lab Model