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.

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