When Does Your Child Need a Space Maintainer?

7 September 2020

Taking good care of your child’s teeth involves more than just brushing regularly and having consistent exams at the dentist. If your child loses a tooth earlier than expected or has to have one of their baby teeth removed due to injury or decay, then they may need a space maintainer to keep the space created open for the permanent tooth.

Baby teeth serve so many purposes. They are important to the development of your child’s jaw bones and muscles. They also help guide your child’s permanent teeth into position. If your child loses a tooth prematurely, their remaining teeth may shift to fill in the new space. If this happens, your child may need orthodontic treatment to fix the issue.

We’re here to tell you about:

  • The benefits of a space maintainer
  • What types of space maintainers there are
  • Other key things you need to know about space maintainers

And if your child does need a space maintainer — at Oakville Place Dental, our knowledgeable and kid-friendly dentists can help you.

What are the benefits of a space maintainer?

There are two main benefits to your child having a space maintainer if they need one:

  • They can protect your child’s oral health. Primary or baby teeth serve as placeholders for permanent or adult teeth. If your child loses a baby tooth too early, their baby teeth may shift to fill in the gap. Or a permanent tooth could erupt at an inappropriate angle. Having a space maintainer can help you avoid these issues – and the resulting impact they may have like gum disease and tooth decay.
  • They can save your child from needing orthodontic treatment later on. If your child’s teeth shift or come in at the wrong angle, you may have to pay for costly orthodontic treatment when they are older. By having a space maintainer, you can help your child prevent unwanted movement in case of premature tooth loss.

What Are the Types of Space Maintainers?

You can select from two different types of space maintainers – fixed or removable.

  • Fixed space maintainer. If you decide you want your child to have a fixed space maintainer, it will be cemented onto your child’s adjacent teeth. We suggest that if you have a fairly young child who needs a space maintainer that you select a fixed one as they are much harder to fiddle with, break or lose than a removable space maintainer.
  • Removable space maintainer. If aesthetics are important to you and your child, then you may prefer a removable space maintainer. They can contain a false tooth and remove an unsightly gap. The space maintainer must be worn most of the time to be effective, so these are a better choice for older children who will handle the space maintainer responsibly.

What else do I need to know about space maintainers?

Here are some more things you and your child should know about space maintainers:

  • After your child starts wearing a space maintainer, it may take them a few days to get used to it, and it may feel uncomfortable at the start. This is why we only recommend the removable type for older children, as they will have the self-discipline to keep wearing it.
  • Before you leave the office, the dentist will review with you and your child how to properly clean the space maintainer to ensure it’s kept free of plaque and the gum tissue around it remains healthy. It is fairly easy to clean a space maintainer by brushing and flossing it as your child would with the rest of their teeth. If it’s removable, then your child can remove it and rinse it as well.
  • If your child has a fixed space maintainer, we will talk to them about the importance of avoiding chewy and sugary foods such as gum and candy as they can get stuck in the space maintainer and even loosen it.
  • We’ll also talk to your child about not pressing or poking the space maintainer with their tongue or fingers (as they are very likely to be tempted to do!) because they could accidentally loosen or bend the space maintainer.
  • We’ll set up a schedule with you to regularly monitor how your child is doing and how their treatment with the space maintainer is progressing.

How can we help you?

At Oakville Place Dental Office, our goal is to make your child’s visit with us as relaxing and painless as possible. We want to encourage children to learn good oral hygiene habits early on – so they can maintain them as they grow up. Having healthy teeth is good for both their overall health and self-esteem.

Not many children look forward to going to the dentist – and even more so if it’s for something new and unfamiliar like a space maintainer. We will work with you and your child every step of the way to help explain how a space maintainer works, what it will feel like and why it’s important.

We take pride in our ability to reduce children’s anxiety and fear – and do our best to make our environment friendly, engaging, and welcoming to your child. We want both you and them to feel you have all your questions and concerns answered.

Now You Know

If your child loses a tooth early for whatever reason – be it injury or dental decay – help is here in the form of a space maintainer. A space maintainer will help ensure that your child’s teeth don’t start moving into the wrong place due to the gap left by the missing tooth.

We pride ourselves on being kid-friendly at Oakville Dental Place and would be happy to help you if your child needs a space maintainer. You can call us at 647-496-2721 or contact us online to book an appointment.

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