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Preserving all of your child’s primary teeth is one of our top priorities at Sea of Smiles. However, if your child loses a tooth due to dental decay or a tooth infection, or if a primary tooth is damaged in an accident, we offer space maintainers as a restorative option. With space maintainers, our dentists will keep the rest of your child’s teeth healthy, and this treatment will ensure that their permanent teeth erupt properly.
How They Work
What Space Maintainers Do
As the name suggests, a space maintainer is built to preserve the space where your child’s missing tooth used to be. Without a space maintainer, your child’s other baby teeth will shift toward the empty space where the missing tooth once lived. This can cause complications when their permanent teeth begin to erupt. Space maintainers will keep your child’s smile healthy and ensure that their permanent teeth grow in correctly.
Honest Advice for Your Family
When to Consider Space Maintainers
If your child is missing a tooth, we will build a space maintainer to help your little one avoid further dental issues down the road.Not every child requires a space maintainer if they lose a tooth early, particularly if they are older and their permanent teeth are starting to grow in. But you should still see one of our dentists for a consultation to make sure your little one’s oral development is not harmed.
Get in Touch with Our Team
to Book an Appointment
Ideally, your child won’t lose any baby teeth before their permanent teeth begin to erupt. But if it does happen, the team at Sea of Smiles Pediatric Dentistry can help with compassionate solutions. At your child's appointment, our experienced pediatric dentists will perform a comprehensive oral exam to assess their oral health and recommend the proper space maintainer for their needs. Contact us today to schedule your appointment at our Yardley, Bensalem, Warrington, or Glenside office.
Types of Space Maintainers for Children
Removable Space Maintainers
These are sometimes referred to as partial dentures because they are structurally very similar. Removable space maintainers can be used for tooth loss in deciduous and permanent teeth. However, the use of removable space maintainers is not recommended in young children because of the danger of swallowing, breaking, or removing the space maintainer. A removable space maintainer would most commonly be used in an older child whose permanent tooth is due to erupt soon.
Fixed Space Maintainers
Most space maintainers are fixed in the mouth with dental cement and can only be removed at the dentist. When the permanent tooth is due to erupt, the child will return to the dental office to have it removed.
Band and loop - This is a unilateral space maintainer used to hold open the space of one primary molar. A stainless steel band is placed around the tooth adjacent to the space and a metal wire holds the vacant space open.
Crown and loop - This appliance is structurally the same as a band and loop space maintainer except a full dental crown is placed over the adjacent tooth instead of a band.
Distal Shoe - This space maintainer is used to keep a space open for the eruption of a first permanent molar. It requires an incision to be made into the gums, where the end of the metal space maintainer will be inserted, and requires close monitoring. It structurally looks like a band and loop space maintainer, except the end of the metal wire is inserted into the gums.
Lingual Arch - This is a bilateral space maintainer, meaning that it is used to keep spaces open for multiple missing teeth on either side of the dental arch. It is cemented to the first permanent molars and usually only placed after the eruption of the incisors. A metal wire connects through the tongue-side of the front teeth on the lower arch.
Nance - This is a type of lingual arch that places stainless steel bands on the first permanent molars but the metal wire does not come into contact with the lower front teeth, and is instead attached to an acrylic button in the middle of the palate.
Trans-Palatal - Similar to a nance, this space maintainer is used when a child’s teeth are being shifted during orthodontic treatment. Bands are placed on the rear molars and connected bilaterally through an archwire that extends straight across and does not come into contact with the soft tissue. This space maintainer holds these molars in the same position while the surrounding teeth are moving.
How Long Will My Child Have to Wear a Space Maintainer?
How long your child will have to wear the space maintainer depends on what tooth was lost, when they lost it, and when the permanent tooth is due to erupt. We will remove the space maintainer used for lost deciduous teeth once the permanent teeth are about to erupt. If your child loses a tooth years before the permanent tooth will be ready to erupt, then your child will need to wear the space maintainer this entire time. However, if your child loses a tooth that will erupt sooner, they will not have to wear one for very long. Space maintainers can be used for lost permanent teeth too. It is not advisable to replace these teeth with restorations such as dental implants or bridges until the remaining teeth and jaw has fully developed at around 16-18 years old. The child will wear a space maintainer until this time, then it can be removed for the placement of a dental implant, bridge, or partial denture.
Ready to climb aboard?
Here’s how to have your child begging to come back: