When a child loses a tooth prematurely due to decay or accident, preserving that space is vital. This prevents adjacent teeth from shifting, leading to dental complications and a higher likelihood of orthodontic treatments later on.
Types of Space Maintainers
Space maintainers can be crafted from stainless steel or plastic. They come in two primary types:
- Removable: Similar in appearance to a retainer, it has plastic sections to occupy the space of the missing tooth. Suitable for older children who can manage it responsibly.
- Fixed: These are more permanent and come in various designs.
- Band-and-loop: This uses stainless steel wire anchored by a crown or band on the adjacent tooth, bridging the gap.
- Lingual arch: Ideal for lower teeth when there’s a loss on both sides. A wire is set on the inner side, connected to the neighboring teeth, preventing them from moving into the gap.
- Distal shoe: Useful when a second primary molar is lost before the first permanent molar emerges. A wire is slightly inserted under the gum to keep the space open.
Caring for Space Maintainers
For optimal care:
- Avoid giving your child sticky foods like candies.
- Discourage them from fiddling with the maintainer.
- Ensure regular cleaning through brushing and flossing.
- Continue regular visits to the pediatric dentist.