Even though baby teeth eventually fall out and are replaced by permanent ones, baby teeth play a crucial role in your child's growth and development. In addition to helping your child learn to speak, eat, and chew, baby teeth also serve as placeholders for the permanent teeth slated to follow.
When a baby tooth is lost prematurely due to extensive tooth decay or a traumatic injury, the permanent teeth already in place or in the process of erupting on either side of the space can begin to drift. As a result of this unplanned movement, these teeth may limit or block the space needed for an underlying permanent tooth.
It may be necessary to fabricate an appliance known as a space maintainer to prevent any untoward drifting that might block the place for a yet-to-erupt permanent tooth. Just as the name implies, a space maintainer acts as a placeholder for the future permanent tooth.
While not every situation requires the placement of a space maintainer, many do. Based upon the location of the lost baby tooth, the development and expected eruption of the underlying permanent tooth, and other factors, our pediatric dentist will determine if a space maintainer is required.
The type of appliance our office recommends all depends upon the specific requirements of your child's smile. Space maintainers can get fabricated as either a fixed or removable appliance. While some space maintainers get cemented to a tooth adjacent to the space previously occupied by the baby tooth, others are removable. A removable space maintainer is one that can get taken in and out of the mouth. Whatever space maintainer is used, it will get removed once the permanent tooth erupts into place.
Our goal is to help every patient experience the benefits of good oral health and a beautiful smile. We value the trust you have placed in our office and strive to provide solutions that meet your dental needs and expectations of care.