Sometimes baby teeth are lost prematurely and the result is a poor formation of permanent teeth. Premature loss can happen if an accident like a fall, sports injury, tooth abscess, or infection occurs. Regardless of why a child has missing primary teeth, it’s important to consider space maintainers to ensure he or she develops permanent teeth in correct locations. If one primary tooth is missing for more than a short period, the child risks other teeth becoming loose because they aren’t properly supported.
Some of space maintainers for kids are made of stainless steel, but there are some made of plastic. Kids space maintainers can be removable, but some are called fixed space maintainers, they are cemented onto the abutment teeth (teeth on either side of the space).
A removable kids space maintainer can be similar in appearance to a retainer. An artificial tooth or plastic shaped block will be placed in the space to hold it for a permanent tooth. This type is normally only used in visible areas. It is not recommended for areas of high pressure like back molars. Removable space maintainers are normally only recommended for older, more responsible children.
Fixed space maintainers are more common. They are held in place in many different ways.
– One type is a band and loop maintainer that is made of stainless steel wire and is held securely by a crown on the tooth right by the space. The crown and loop is an actual crown that covers the tooth and is attached to the loop to ensure there is space for the erupting tooth.
– Another type of fixed space maintainer is The distal shoe space maintainer is usually used for an unerupted first permanent molar tooth. It is a more complicated space maintainer because the end of the metal is usually inserted into the gum line to keep the open space from closing. A dentist will need to monitor the progress of the erupting permanent molar to make sure it can erupt properly with this space maintainer.
– The lingual space maintainer is usually bilateral in nature and may be cemented to molar teeth and connected by a wire on the inside of the lower front teeth. Usually this is used for more than one missing tooth.
One of the main risks of using a space maintainer is oral hygiene. If a child’s oral hygiene is poor, then the gums may become inflamed and also the risk of tooth decay will increase.
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