If a primary tooth is lost too early, the new tooth can potentially come through the gums in the empty space rather than where they should be. Later down the road when the rest of the adult teeth are ready to come through the gums, there might not be enough room in the mouth.
In order to prevent this, our pediatric dentists might recommend a space maintainer to “hold” the open space from the missing tooth. This will allow ample space in your mouth for the teeth to erupt in the proper position.
What is a Space Maintainer?
A space maintainer is a common pediatric dental treatment option. It 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. The job of a space maintainer is to keep the space between two or more baby teeth open to allow the permanent tooth to erupt and come into place.
Space maintainers are not permanent and they are removed when permanent teeth erupt. There are two types of pediatric space maintainers that your dentist may recommend, fixed and removable. As the names suggest, the first one stays in the mouth although not permanently while the other is removable.
Removable – removable space maintainers are similar to orthodontic appliances and are usually made of acrylic. In some cases, an artificial tooth may be used to fill a space that must remain open for the unerupted tooth.
Fixed – there are four different kinds of fixed space maintainers: unilateral, crown and loop, distal shoe and lingual.
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