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Pediatric Space Maintainers

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What is a Space Maintainer?

Baby teeth are important for dental development because they hold the place for and help guide adult teeth into their proper places as your child grows.  Normally baby teeth are pushed out by adult teeth, but in some cases, a dental emergency or decay and dental caries can cause the premature loss of one or more baby teeth, which may need to be addressed.

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 an important treatment option for children because they can help reduce or even eliminate the need for future orthodontic work such as braces later on in your child’s life.

Not everyone who loses a baby tooth without an adult tooth right behind it will need space maintainers.  However, this determination should be made by your child’s dentist or orthodontist, so it is important to bring them in for regular checkup and cleaning visits.  Regular dental checkups and a good oral hygiene routine at home are the best way to prevent decay and possible premature loss of baby teeth.

Placing Space Maintainers at the Office

Space maintainers are either fixed (cemented into place) or removable.  There are different types of space maintainers for different situations and locations in the mouth.  Your child’s dentist or orthodontist will have reviewed with you the number and type of space maintainers needed.  The procedure is very simple and routine, and can be completed in one or two office visits, depending upon the treatment needed.

Once the space maintainer has been created or placed, it make take a few days for your child to get used to the appliance.  Carefully monitor your child to make sure they are wearing it, if the maintainer is removable, and ensure they are following a proper at-home oral hygiene routine.

Regular Visits for Monitoring

Once your child is used to the space maintainer, your child will need to return to the office to be monitored regularly by the dentist or orthodontist to make sure that the development and growth of the new tooth or teeth is on track and following the path that the space maintainer has allowed.  Once the adult tooth or teeth are growing in properly, the space maintainer can be removed.

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