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Space Maintainers for Premature Tooth Loss

Posted December 28, 2014

Although temporary, your child’s baby teeth play a pivotal role in oral development.

When baby teeth decay or are lost prematurely, the integrity and appearance of their adult teeth can be permanently undermined. Today, we will focus on premature tooth loss and how Dr. Mark Bronsky can address it early to ensure your child has a healthy, beautiful smile for years to come.

The role of baby teeth

If your child’s permanent teeth are blind, their baby teeth are seeing eye dogs. Each baby tooth saves space for the permanent tooth developing below it, and guides that tooth into proper position. Timing must be perfect with the permanent tooth coming in just as the baby tooth (also known as a deciduous or primary tooth) is lost.

When a baby tooth is lost prematurely, a negative chain reaction is set off where surrounding teeth begin to shift out of alignment and force the permanent tooth below to erupt at an undesirable angle. Similarly, in cases where there is no permanent tooth to take the place of the baby tooth, surrounding teeth can shift and cause your child’s smile to become crooked or gapped.

Causes of premature tooth loss:

  • Blunt force trauma
  • Disease
  • Manual removal due to decay or damage
  • Congenitally missing teeth

Braces can of course reverse the misalignments caused by premature tooth loss, but what if we told you your orthodontist can prevent drifting with space maintainers?

Space maintainers

As the name implies, space maintainers are removable or fixed appliances made of metal or plastic that maintain the space left behind by a lost or congenitally missing tooth until the permanent tooth erupts. Each of our space maintainers are customized for optimum aesthetic quality, effectiveness and comfort.

  • Removable space maintainers resemble orthodontic retainers that have attached plastic blocks or false teeth that will maintain empty spaces. Removable types are ideal for older children who are capable of proper care and wear of the appliance.
  • Fixed space maintainers come in several types: band and loop, lingual arch and a distal shoe appliance.

Band and loop style space maintainers use a tooth on either side of the open space to support a stainless steel loop that maintains space by extending across the space just to the tooth present on the opposite side.

A lingual arch is a wire that runs across the back – or lingual side- of teeth to maintain space when the child has missing teeth on both sides of their mouth.

A distal shoe appliance is placed below the gum line and used when your child loses a tooth in front of one of their 6-year molars, as there is no tooth to attach a band and loop space maintainer.

  • Partial dentures

How long will my child have to wear a space maintainer?

Space maintainers are worn until your child’s growth ceases around age 16 to 18.

How do I know if my child needs space maintainers?

Biannual dental checkups with your child’s dentist or orthodontist allow them to diagnose congenitally missing teeth via X-ray and decide promptly if a baby tooth has been lost too early.

Space maintainers aren’t required for cases involving premature loss of one of the four upper front teeth.

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends children have their first orthodontic evaluation no later than age 7.

Call today and have TriBeCa orthodontist Dr. Bronsky evaluate your child’s oral development.