Most children by age 3 years old will have their complete set of primary teeth in. These teeth not only allow them to eat solid foods but also serve a very important function as place savers for their eventual permanent teeth. If your child loses their primary teeth too soon, (by genetics, trauma, accident, “baby bottle decay”, childhood cavities) or if a permanent tooth is delayed in descending, it is important to maintain this space with the use of space maintainers. These help keep the space open for the permanent tooth to eventually come into proper placement as well as support the surrounding teeth to avoid further misalignment.
If the surrounding teeth are not supported, they can eventually shift into the void left by the missing primary tooth. This then affects the permanent teeth when they erupt as they will be forced into an incorrect position. This is only relevant if it will be some time before the permanent teeth are expected to erupt, so speaking with your child’s dentist or orthodontist is highly recommended to determine the best course of treatment required.
There are several different appliances of space maintainers, some are removable while others are fixed. Removable devices work better with older children who are responsible enough to take on the care and cleaning of their appliances.
Fixed maintainers attach to the teeth using dental cement and are recommended for younger children or if they are missing any back teeth. If they are only missing teeth on one side, then your doctor will recommend using a unilateral maintainer, these are fixed only on one side. If they are missing teeth on both sides, then a bilateral appliance will be affixed. These are effective for both the upper and/or lower jaw for both front or back teeth.
After your doctor’s exam and evaluation, they will explain their findings to you and suggest their recommendation for the best appliance and treatment options.
It will take your child some time to get adjusted to the feel of the appliance. During this time, you will want to keep an eye on their daily oral hygiene habits to ensure it is being kept clean and free of debris or irritation. If your child’s appliance needs adjustment or becomes damaged in any way, contact our office at 512-337-2325 to schedule an appointment.