When your child prematurely loses a baby tooth, you should bring them to the dentist right away. In all likelihood, your child will need to wear an oral appliance known as a space maintainer until their permanent tooth is ready to erupt.
The purpose of this stainless steel oral appliance is to hold the space open for your permanent tooth and to prevent your other teeth from shifting or leaning into the space.
Without any intervention, your child’s teeth would start moving which could lead to orthodontic problems and the impaction of the permanent tooth because of lack of space. Contact us at Little Smiles Pediatric Dentistry today to schedule an appointment with an Ashburn pediatric dentist.
Unilateral space maintainers can be placed in the same appointment but a bilateral space maintainer will require some waiting for it to be constructed.
We’ll first need you to bring your child into our Ashburn practice for a consultation so we can assess which tooth has been lost and what type of space maintainer they will need.
Based on your child’s needs, the number of missing teeth, and their age, the dentist will develop a treatment plan to ensure that their permanent teeth erupt properly.
After determining which type of space maintainer is needed, Dr. Konz will place it over the abutment tooth or teeth.
Your child will need to return for regular follow-up appointments to check on the condition of the space maintainer, the alignment of the teeth, and the eruption of the permanent tooth.
Once the permanent tooth is showing signs that it’s due to erupt, the space maintainer will be removed and the tooth will erupt through the gums like normal.
This is a class of space maintainers that hold space open on one side of the mouth. These space maintainers include the Band and Loop and the Distal Shoe. They are fixed in place so your child cannot remove them.
This is a type of space maintainer that maintains space on both sides of the mouth and can only be removed by a dentist. There are a few Fixed Bilateral space maintainers, such as the Transpalatal Arch, Lingual Holding Arch, and Nance.
A removable space maintainer is any space maintainer that is placed in your child’s mouth and can be taken out at any time, much like partial dentures.
This is less common because young children are less likely to cooperate with wearing it, may take it out too often, or it may become damaged or accidentally swallowed. These are only recommended in older children who can comply with the treatment.
Your child should avoid sticky foods like gum while wearing a space maintainer.
They are necessary when your child has lost a baby tooth too soon. While baby teeth are meant to fall out naturally, if they come out way ahead of schedule due to decay or dental trauma, it will affect the rest of your child’s teeth and the eruption of their permanent tooth.
If the permanent tooth is due to come in soon or if the lost tooth is one of the four teeth in the front of the mouth, they likely will not require a space maintainer.
No, space maintainers should not be especially painful. While the installation of a space maintainer may be a little uncomfortable, it’ll only take a few minutes and our Ashburn team can administer dental sedation to help with dental anxiety. To relieve discomfort, your child can take age-appropriate anti-inflammatory pain medication.
Depending on when the permanent tooth is due to erupt, your child may have to wear a space maintainer for a few years.