Baby teeth have the important role of maintaining space for proper eruption and alignment of permanent teeth. The longer baby teeth are kept, the easier it is for permanent teeth to emerge in proper alignment.
Because this is so important, when teeth must be removed for various reasons such as abscess, trauma or accident, pediatric dentists often recommend space maintainers. These easy and comfortable, temporary devices hold the space for the permanent teeth’s future slot and keep the surrounding teeth from infringing on the area.
What Are Space Maintainers?
Space maintainers are orthodontic appliances that help maintain the space where one or more teeth are missing.These appliances are used in pediatric dentistry to address early loss of baby teeth, and prevent more serious issues as your child gets older, such as overlapping, overcrowding, or crooked teeth; misaligned bites; or speech impediments.
Depending on your child’s needs, there are many different types of space maintainers that can be used to keep your child in optimal orthodontic health. Types of space maintainers include: band and loop, crown and loop, distal shoe, lingual, and unilateral.
What Are Band And Loop Space Maintainers?
When there is a tooth missing on just one side of the mouth, a stainless steel band is placed over a healthy adjacent tooth, and a loop fits over the empty space. This loop serves as a placeholder to “save” the spot where there previously was a baby tooth. This guards surrounding teeth from crowding into the space that was left by the missing tooth.
This space maintainer then stays in place until removed by a dentist when a permanent tooth grows in its place, or when the adjacent tooth starts getting loose.
What Are Crown And Loop Space Maintainers?
A crown and loop space maintainer utilizes a crown placed over one tooth and a stainless steel wire loop. The loop presses against the tooth on the opposite side of the empty space, and keeps the gap as a placeholder for the adult tooth. The crown can be removed once the healthy permanent tooth grows in.
What Are Distal Shoe Space Maintainers?
Distal shoes are similar to the band and loop, but are specialized for first permanent molars that have not grown in yet. These space maintainers are designed to guide the proper growth of your child’s adult molars.
What Are Lingual Space Maintainers?
Lingual space maintainers are useful if a child is missing several teeth. This can be useful if a child has a congenital defect. Wires and crowns are used to help keep space across multiple tooth gaps.
What Are Unilateral Space Maintainers?
Similar to the crown and loop, this type of space maintainer uses a wire to maintain space between two teeth gaps. The wire in a unilateral space maintainer connects to both teeth on either side of the gap.
If you want to learn more about different types of space maintainers, and how these appliances might benefit your child’s dental health, call our pediatric dental experts at All Kids Dental in Suffolk, VA today!