The Importance of Space Maintenance After Tooth Loss

Your child’s baby teeth are not just there to make her look cute in pictures; they serve a very important oral health purpose. First and foremost, baby teeth aid in the healthy growth and development of the jaw and teeth. Until the permanent tooth emerges from the gums, primary teeth remain in place to save the space and act as a guide for healthy tooth eruption. If the tooth falls out too soon, perhaps due to decay or trauma, it can have lasting repercussions on the future position of the permanent teeth, causing them to shift to and cause problems with surrounding teeth.

Space Maintenance for Early Tooth Loss

If your child loses a tooth too soon or needs to have a primary tooth extracted for any reason, there is a relatively simple solution we offer to help maintain the space where the ‘baby’ tooth once stood. A space maintainer is an orthodontic device that helps prevent the surrounding teeth from shifting into the space vacated by the lost tooth. This ensures that there is plenty of room for the permanent tooth to eventually erupt into place.

Only your child’s orthodontist should determine if a space maintainer will be necessary after tooth loss. In some cases, a space will stay open without assistance until the permanent tooth emerges. Similarly, a space maintainer may not be necessary if the permanent tooth will soon be erupting the gums. However, many children ultimately benefit from the preventive advantages of space maintainers.

Types of Space Maintainers and Maintenance

We have the option of working with a dental lab to custom make our patients’ space maintainers. Depending on your child’s age and needs, a space maintainer may be fixed or removable and could be made of metal, plastic, or acrylic.

There are several different types of space maintainers used in young patients. For lab-created maintainers, an impression will be taken of the space where the missing tooth once was. It will be sent to the lab, where technicians use it to create the space maintainer. Once ready, a fixed maintainer can be cemented into place at a second office visit.
If your child requires a space maintainer, regular dental check-ups will become more important than ever before. Your child will need to visit a dentist at least twice yearly to ensure the area is remaining clean and free of infection.

If your child experienced premature tooth loss or will need an early tooth extraction in the future, contact the team here at Braces For Us find out more about space maintenance.