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If your child loses a baby tooth prematurely due to severe decay, extraction, or dental trauma, you may think nothing of it. After all, your child’s baby teeth will eventually be replaced by permanent teeth anyway, so why bother with a prematurely lost baby tooth?

Your child’s tooth will eventually grow back, but you may put your child’s permanent teeth at risk if the space isn’t correctly filled. Space maintainers help keep your child’s teeth in place and ensure sufficient spacing for primary teeth. So if you live in Harrisonburg, VA, and are looking for quality space maintainers, Massanutten Dental is here to help!

What is a space maintainer?

A space maintainer’s primary function is to prevent surrounding teeth from shifting into the space left by a baby tooth lost too soon. The devices leave enough room for permanent teeth to grow in after baby teeth are lost prematurely. A space maintainer can be used for your upper jaw or bottom gum line. While losing a baby tooth too early might not seem like a big problem at first, protecting the space is crucial for your child’s optimal oral health. If you don’t take care of a gap, it can lead to severe issues down the road.

What causes premature loss of baby teeth?

Many things can lead to premature loss of baby teeth, including trauma, congenital disabilities, accidents, or decay. Depending on your child’s situation, your child’s dentist may recommend a space maintainer to ensure healthy teeth and a healthy smile as their permanent teeth develop.

How does early orthodontic treatment with a space maintainer work?

A tooth spacer is an early orthodontic treatment that helps ensure the existing teeth align correctly, even as new ones are getting ready to erupt. They work by fitting snugly over the space left by a missing tooth. ​In some cases, they can also help avoid the need for your child to wear braces down the road and prevent future pain and discomfort.

What are the benefits of a space maintainer, and how can they protect permanent teeth?

There are many benefits to using Space Maintainers, including:

  • Ensuring that your child’s teeth stay in place
  • Helping to keep the space open for permanent tooth
  • Reducing the likelihood of future orthodontic treatment
  • Reducing the risk of cavities and tooth decay in the space and teeth

What are the different types of space maintainers?

There are four types of fixed space maintainers that pediatric dentists can use to care for children’s teeth.

Fixed Space Maintainer: One type of space maintainer is called a fixed space maintainer. It is a semi-permanent tooth fixture that keeps enough space for the primary tooth to grow. Our dentist can remove the maintainer after the permanent tooth has grown in.

Crown and Loop: The device consists of a stainless steel wire loop and a crown over one tooth. The loop presses against the tooth on the other side of the gap and keeps the hole open for the missing teeth. Once the permanent teeth grow, your child’s pediatric dentist can remove the crown.

Distal Shoe Space Maintainer: This maintainer is used only if the first permanent molar teeth have not yet developed. These maintainers are inserted into the gum line after a baby molar falls out prematurely. The device then guides the unerupted primary molar as it grows in.

Lingual: In pediatric dentistry, dentists use these maintainers if a child is missing teeth due to a congenital disability. The maintainers use a metal wire and crowns to space several tooth gaps. 

Unilateral: The maintainers are fixed to one side of the mouth using metal bands to wrap around the teeth and to maintain space between two teeth.

Bilateral Space Maintainers: The maintainers are fixed to both sides of the mouth with two metal bands and wrap around the teeth.

Removable Space Maintainer: This is a good choice if your child’s adult teeth are ready to grow out. They are made from acrylic materials and can be fitted with an artificial tooth.

What is the average lifespan of a space maintainer?

The average lifespan of a space maintainer varies depending on the type of appliance used. Fixed space maintainers typically last around five years, while removable space maintainers can last ten years.

Children must maintain proper dental hygiene habits while wearing space maintainers. We know that sometimes cavities happen, but good brushing and flossing at home, combined with regular dental checkups, can help prevent more tooth loss and pave the way for healthy permanent teeth.

Ask About Space Maintainers at Our Office in Harrisonburg, VA

Our pediatric dentist offers various space maintainers to ensure healthy teeth for your children. If you are looking for quality fixed or removable space maintainers in Harrisonburg, VA, Massanutten Dental is here to help! Our experienced dentists will work with you to find the perfect solution for your child’s mouth.

If your child has lost a baby tooth prematurely, contact us today to schedule a consultation to see if space maintainers can help!