A dental space maintainer is a custom-made orthodontic device used to hold space for permanent teeth. Spacers are typically used when a child loses baby teeth prematurely or has one extracted. The spacer prevents the surrounding teeth from shifting to ensure the permanent tooth will grow into its proper position. Most pediatric dental spacers are fixed. These semi-permanent tooth fixtures remain in place until the adult tooth starts to come in. If the adult tooth is already erupting, a removable spacer may be used instead.
Dental spacers are ideal for children who lose their baby teeth early. When a baby tooth falls out or is extracted prematurely, the surrounding teeth may shift, causing the adult teeth to grow in crooked or crowded. Spacers maintain the gap to help the adult teeth form correctly. However, spacers may not always be the best option for your child’s teeth. For example, if the adult tooth is about to erupt, your orthodontist may not recommend a space maintainer. At Goldreich Orthodontics, we can evaluate your child’s tooth gap to determine if a dental space maintainer is the best treatment option.
Wearing dental spacers is typically painless. While your child may experience some pressure during installation, most don’t experience any pain.
Dental spacers require proper care to prevent plaque and bacteria buildup. You can help your child keep their dental spacers in good condition by encouraging them to: Refrain from pushing or pulling on the spacer with their tongue or fingers. Avoid sticky foods like candy or chewing gum. Practice proper oral hygiene, including brushing and flossing.
Dental spacer installation varies depending on the type of spacer.
- Crown and loop spacers: These spacers use a metal crown and loop. The crown is placed over a tooth on one side of the gap, and the attached loop extends over the gap, pressing against the tooth on the other side. This pressure keeps the gap open so the permanent tooth can grow in properly.
- Unilateral spacers: These spacers are similar to crown and loop spacers, except they use a wire that wraps around the teeth on either side of the gap.
- Lingual spacers: These spacers use metal crowns and wires to maintain space over several tooth gaps. The crowns are cemented to molar teeth, and wires connect them to the lower front teeth.
- Distal shoe spacers: These spacers are inserted into the gum line to create enough space for an erupting tooth. They’re typically used for permanent molars.
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