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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