Space Maintainers for Premature Tooth Loss
• They prevent teeth from drifting or erupting in an angle
• They can be used for cosmetic purposes, when the space between the teeth is obvious.
Who is this procedure for?
• Children who knocked out their teeth in accidents
• Children whose primary teeth are extracted due to extensive decay
• Children whose primary teeth are missing at birth
• Removable space maintainers are best for older children who can care for them properly.
Who should not consider this procedure?
• Children who have lost one of the four upper front teeth – the space between the remaining teeth can be maintained on its own until the permanent tooth comes in
• Children who do not go to the dentist regularly (at least every 6 months)
• Children whose permanent teeth are about to erupt.
What happens before the procedure?
Space maintainers are custom made for every patient by dentists or orthodontists. Although both removable and fixed maintainers are made the same way, fixed ones require more time and more than one visit to the dentist. In this case, a metal band is placed around one of the two teeth that are next to the space. For both type of retainers impressions are made and sent to the dental laboratory. The laboratory makes the retainers and sends them back to the dentist.
What happens during the procedure?
At the second visit, the dentist tries the maintainer, and if it’s a fixed one he or she cements it in place. Some space maintainers can even be made in a single visit.
What happens after the procedure?
Having a space maintainer may feel unusual at first, but most children get used to them in about 2 – 3 days. At ulterior visits the dentist takes X-rays to check the progress of the incoming permanent teeth; space maintainers are removed when permanent teeth are ready to erupt. If there isn’t a permanent tooth that is to erupt, maintainers can be used until the age of 16 – 18, when the child’s growth is completed.