For the majority of children, baby teeth will be lost and a healthy adult tooth will be waiting underneath to spring up and take its place. Unfortunately, the threat of tooth decay or the daily dangers that come from children running, playing, and knocking out a tooth could lead to a gap in their mouth, or a space. When this occurs, pediatric dentists will usually recommend some “space maintenance” in the form of a space maintainer usually made from plastic or metal. Like braces, these maintainers will keep teeth straight and in line as they continue to grow.
Why Use a Space Maintainer?
It’s true that baby teeth will eventually fall out all on their own and be replaced by adult teeth. So, it might seem like it is not very important to worry about the gap left by a baby tooth that has been knocked out. In fact, the proper development of those adult teeth is incredibly important for the muscles and bones that make up the jaw. Not to mention the fact that an adult tooth may not come in until the child has reached the age of 12 or 14, giving plenty of time for something to go wrong and create a crooked tooth that will be an issue for the rest of their life.
What Does a Space Maintainer Do?
Space maintainers will stop movement from developing teeth, helping them to grow in as they naturally would have had the baby tooth been present the entire time. They also help the other baby teeth from shifting. When baby teeth are gone, the others tend to drift which can cause serious problems for developing adult teeth underneath. A space maintainer will ensure that your children’s teeth don’t drift, and there is plenty of room for the adult tooth.
Maintaining the Maintainer
There are four main rules for ensuring that a maintainer is properly kept and continues to function: no sticky sweets or chewing gum, no touching the maintainer or pushing it with fingers, ensure the maintainer is clean with proper brushing, and go for regular visits at the dentist. If all four of these rules are followed, space maintainers will continue to do their job and keep your child’s adult teeth safe as they develop.