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Does My Child Need a Space Maintainer?

When a child loses one of their baby teeth early, they may need a space maintainer. However, parents can be concerned that a space maintainer could lead to more oral health problems, such as cavities.

So naturally, you may be wondering if a space maintainer is truly necessary. After all, that baby tooth was supposed to fall out sooner or later anyway.

Well, space maintainers can play a huge role in your child’s proper oral health development. Check out this short blog post to understand why your little one might need a space maintainer.

What Is a Space Maintainer?
A space maintainer is a type of oral appliance used to maintain the distance between two baby teeth after the one in between falls out ahead of schedule.

When baby teeth are naturally ready to fall out, the permanent ones are ready to take their place. Baby teeth start to loosen because the adult teeth start growing and slowly dissolve the primary tooth’s root.

But if the baby tooth falls out because of an accident, the other teeth will start moving to compensate for the extra space. As a result, the permanent tooth won’t have enough space to grow, leading to alignment issues that will need orthodontic treatment.

The Types of Space Maintainers
If a child loses a primary tooth, they may need one of the following space maintainers:

Unilateral – This space maintainer is designed to fit around an existing tooth, with a metal frame extending into the space.

Bilateral – This one is used when the child has lost several primary teeth.

Crown and loop – These space maintainers are similar to unilateral space maintainers, but also have a dental crown covering the natural tooth.

Distal shoe – This is used for the first permanent molar, and inserted directly into the gum line to keep the space open
These are all types of fixed space maintainers, which are commonly recommended for younger children. Removable maintainers require better patient compliance, so dentists usually recommend them for older children.

Do Space Maintainers Cause Cavities?
Neither removable nor fixed space maintainers will cause cavities. However, they can make oral hygiene a bit more complicated, which can increase the risk of cavities.

Removable spacers are a bit easier to maintain since the child can take them out, brush their teeth, and place them back in. However, even with fixed maintainers, it’s still possible to properly clean the teeth.

Parents will just have to help their children properly brush and floss around the spacers to ensure all food particles and debris are removed.

Does Your Child Need Space Maintainers?
Has your child lost one of their baby teeth prematurely? Then they may need space maintainers. Our Board Certified pediatric dentist in Pinole, Dr. Gary Sabbadini can help you choose the proper spacer that will ensure your child’s smile grows happy and healthy.

To get started, contact Dr. Gary Sabbadini's team online, or call us at 510-724-4400 for a short chat.

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