Losing teeth is part of growing up. Most of the time, teeth come out when they’re supposed to, and are replaced in a timely manner by their permanent counterparts. Sometimes though, teeth are lost earlier than normal, due to trauma or tooth decay. Even though it’s normal for a child to be seen with missing teeth, it’s not normal for a permanent tooth to loose it’s primary partner earlier than needed. In fact, premature tooth loss can interfere with eruption patterns not only of one tooth, but multiple teeth. Adjacent teeth can slightly shift into the space, blocking the other tooth from coming in, and also misguiding their own permanent replacements underneath.
Thankfully there’s a way to help prevent misalignment complications like crowding when a tooth is lost too early, and that’s by using a space maintenance device. Sometimes these are referred to as interceptive orthodontic appliances, because they affect the position of the teeth. Small space maintainers are easily put in place to help hold areas open, allowing the permanent tooth to come in correctly and without complication. Once the permanent tooth begins to erupt, the small device can be removed. One example of such a device is a “band and loop” that is essentially a thin belt placed around a tooth, with a wire loop extending out the side of it to hold any teeth back out of the open area that it covers.
Placing space maintainers is very easy to do, and does not require any anesthetic. Deciding to take this step can save lots of time and money later on when it comes to orthodontic needs.
Posted on behalf of Dr. Brett Gluck, DMD, MS, PC
Your child lost some teeth before they should have. Whether it was from trauma or decay, now there are no primary teeth to help safeguard the space until the permanent teeth are ready to erupt. This can complicate things later on if the teeth shift out of place and prevent the adult teeth from coming in where they need to be. Your dentist will recommend placing a space maintainer to help retain the open area and encourage proper eruption patterns, limiting orthodontic needs later on.
Traditional space maintainers simply hold open space by using a small metal loop that extended in the area against adjacent teeth. However, these still left your child “toothless” in those areas, and left parents with a concern about the way their child’s smile looked. Thankfully there are now more esthetically pleasing options that implement a cosmetic approach to space maintainers. These esthetic space maintainers actually have small false teeth bonded to them, making it look as if your child isn’t missing any teeth at all! The teeth are designed in color, shape, and size to reflect a uniform appearance across the mouth. You might think of it as the child’s alternative to a partial denture, but it stays in place permanently until it’s time to take it out.
Once your child’s adult teeth begin to erupt, your pediatric dentist will remove the space maintainer so that the adult teeth are not blocked. Adult teeth will continue to erupt full into place, with adequate spacing and no risk of being impacted due to tooth misalignment.
Investing in your child’s smile is priceless! Ask your dentist about esthetic space maintainers and whether or not your child is an ideal candidate.
Posted on behalf of Dr. Paul Gilreath IV, Gilreath Dental Associates
Baby teeth fall out for a number of reasons other than normal exfoliation. It may have been an accidental bump, a cavity, or extraction due to a dental infection. The only problem with losing a tooth prematurely is that the space is no longer held for the developing adult tooth underneath. Nearby teeth can begin to squeeze together, which then blocks the full eruption of other teeth, causing a chain reaction of problems later on.
Thankfully there is a way to help preserve these areas to allow for proper eruption patterns and the prevention of orthodontic complications. The use of a band-and-loop space maintainer or similar device helps hold adjacent teeth apart the same way the lost tooth would have. In a way it acts as if it’s a small retainer, keeping teeth in place while it’s still necessary. This is a form of interceptive orthodontics that encourages proper development, formation of the mouth, and prevents the need for more aggressive orthodontic measures later on when treatments are typically completed.
Once other teeth begin to fall out, the space maintainer is removed around the time that the teeth should have exfoliated on their own, or when the permanent tooth begins to show signs of eruption into the space. Because the device is only held into place temporarily, it is easy to install and easy to have removed when the time is appropriate. The affordability of a space maintainer makes it well worth the investment for parents, as it is a small price to pay compared to lengthier treatments later on down the road.
Posted on behalf of Dr. Brett Gluck
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