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
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