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Reef Blog

Space Maintainers for Kids Help Hold Room for Permanent Teeth; Indications, Types & Cost

Smile Reef

Your child’s baby teeth are designed for chewing, but what you may not realize is that each baby tooth also helps guide the permanent adult tooth that replaces it. If your child loses a baby tooth too early, the permanent tooth may erupt in the wrong position in your child’s mouth. Additionally, the neighboring teeth may also lean or move into the prematurely empty space. When this happens you child’s mouth may not have enough room for the permanent tooth to grow into when it is ready. While this is indeed worrisome, the experienced pediatric dentists at Smile Reef have a solution that will protect your child’s teeth and ease your peace of mind. Space Maintainers can be used if a baby tooth is lost before the permanent tooth is ready to grow in or if a permanent tooth is already missing.

Dentists refer to baby teeth as primary or deciduous teeth. Deciduous teeth can be lost too early for several reasons including:
• Being knocked out in a fall or other accident
• Being extracted due to severe decay that has caused an infection
• Missing at birth
• Some conditions or diseases that can lead to early tooth loss.

By applying a space maintainer, the expert pediatric dentists and dental technicians at Smile Reef will ensure that the space is kept open until the permanent tooth comes in.

Types of Space Maintainers

There are several different types of space maintainers and your Smile Reef pediatric dentist will help you make an informed decision about which type of maintainer will be best suited to your child. Space maintainers are typically made from stainless steel or plastic. They can be removable or they can be fixed. A fixed space maintainer is cemented onto the teeth on either side of the space within your child’s mouth. A removable space maintainer uses artificial teeth or plastic blocks to fill in the spaces that need to be kept open. A removable space maintainer is often used when the space is very obvious and works especially well with older children who can follow directions regarding cleaning and care. For a younger child a fixed maintainer is the preferred choice. If your dentist applies a fixed space maintainer your child should avoid eating chewy or extremely hard foods like chewing gum and candy which can bend or pull the space maintainer out of place.

Are Space Maintainers Really Necessary?

Not every tooth that is lost too early will need a space maintainer, for example if one of the four upper front teeth is lost early, the space will typically stay open until the permanent tooth comes in. However should your child lose a tooth in a fall, or have a tooth become loose and fall out before it is ready, contact the friendly staff at Smile Reef to schedule an appointment with a pediatric dentist to evaluate the situation. Our professional dental staff will examine your child and determine if a space maintainer should be used. Once the decision has been made to apply a space maintainer, your Smile Reef pediatric dentist will take regular x-rays to follow the progress of the incoming permanent tooth and when the permanent tooth is ready to erupt, the space maintainer will be removed.

captain blog

Best Packed School Lunch Foods for Healthy Kid’s Teeth & Gums

Smile Reef

The main old school lunch option was always a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a bag of chips. But these days, parents are more conscience of their children’s health in general and like to make better choices when they pack that lunch pail in the morning. Did you know there are choices you could be making that could be causing plaque and cavities?

Smile Reef has put together a list of what to put and what not to put in your kids school lunches for healthy teeth and gums.

Carbohydrates Cause Plaque: This means that the old PB & J that is a staple in school lunches should be out. The white bread is full of carbohydrates that when touches the gums can cause plaque to build up. A better option to making a sandwich is to go for a lettuce wrap, or you can take some lunch meat and cheeses and cut them up. Kids love to stack their foods so this makes it healthier for their teeth and it can be a fun substitution to a daily sandwich.

Nothing Sticky: This is hard one to avoid because of the absorbent amount of sticky treats that are made and marketed just for kids. These can range from fruit snacks to caramel, taffy and also hard candy that gets stuck to the teeth. The sticky sugar will get into the cracks and in between the teeth and stay there all day long. Kids don’t go brush after eating lunch so it can be several hours before the sugar is removed. This is plenty of time for the tooth to start to decay. A better option is to go with some fresh fruits. The best fruits are those that have large amounts of water in them such as cantaloupe, watermelon, grapes and apples. Although any fruit is better than eating a sticky candy!

No Sugary Juice: The handy juice pouch can be found in almost all the lunch pails across the United States. They are so handy, convenient and affordable. This works in the same way that the sugary snacks do because the sugars in the drink will stick to the child’s teeth and stay there all day. A better option is to pack water or a small milk in their lunch instead. The milk is all around more healthy for them and great for their teeth.

If you feel like you are still needing more good options for lunches to be sure your child is full, you can also slide in a yogurt which is a great snack choice. You can also do any type of cheese or veggies. If you need to add a small container with some ranch dressing to get them to eat the veggies then go for it!

lettuce wrap