Space Maintainers: Does Your Child Need One?

For some children, the need to see a cosmetic dentist like Roy B. Guster DDS PC might come earlier than parents expect. Depending on the development of your child's permanent teeth, he or she might need a space maintainer. If your dentist has recommended one for your child, it is important you understand what it is and why it is necessary.

What Is a Space Maintainer?

Ideally, your child's baby teeth will fall out at the appropriate time. When each tooth is lost, a space is left behind for the eruption of a permanent tooth. If your child's baby teeth fall out too early, the permanent teeth might appear in the wrong spaces. As a result, your child's teeth will start to look crowded or too much space can be left between the teeth. To prevent this occurring, your child's dentist will most likely recommend the use of a space maintainer. 

The space maintainer basically helps to hold the space open for the permanent teeth.  It is a custom-made oral appliance that can be cemented into place, if necessary. Depending on your child's age and oral habits, the dentist might opt to make the appliance removable. 

What Are the Types of Space Maintainers?

There are different kinds of maintainers that are composed of different materials. The maintainer can be made of plastic, acrylic, or stainless steel. It can also resemble a retainer. If the space that needs to be maintained is at the front of your child's mouth, the dentist might affix artificial teeth to the maintainer. 

The basic design of a the maintainer consists of wires or latches to help keep it attached to your child's teeth. The dentist can also use a crown to help hold the maintainer in place. 

In some instances, the dentist might forego the use of the space maintainer and opt for a partial instead. The partial is more commonly used for children who are missing several teeth. If your child has a medical condition that will result in permanent teeth not developing, the partial will be used until he or she is older and then removable dentures or dental implants will be used. 

The decision to use a space maintainer is up to you and your child's dentist. The appliance requires you and your child to be more vigilant about his or her oral care. If you are concerned whether or not this is the best option for your child, talk to your cosmetic dentist about this option and others that might be available.