If your child’s tooth has come out too soon because of decay or an accident, it is important to maintain the space to prevent future space loss and dental problems when permanent teeth begin to come in. Without the use of a space maintainer, the teeth that surround the open space can shift, impeding the permanent tooth’s eruption. When that happens, the need for orthodontic treatment may become greater.
Types of Space Maintainers
A band-and-loop space maintainer has a band is cemented on to the tooth behind the space and a loop that rests against the side of the tooth in front of the space to prevent the posterior tooth from drifting forward.
A lower lingual arch is used on the lower teeth when back teeth on both sides of the jaw are lost. A wire is placed on the lingual (tongue) side of the arch and is attached to bands cemented to the permanent teeth on both sides. The wire rests gently behind the lower front teeth to prevent teeth from shifting into the gap.
A Nance is used for the upper arch when back teeth on both sides of the jaw are lost. A wire is placed on the side near the palate and attached to bands cemented to the most posterior teeth. The wire is embedded in a plastic button that rests gently on the roof of the mouth to prevent teeth from shifting into the gap.
Caring for Your Child’s Space Maintainer
There are four general rules for taking care of your child’s appliance.
- Your child should avoid sticky foods, including candy and chewing gum.
- Encourage your child not to push or tug on the space maintainer with the fingers or tongue.
- Keep your child’s space maintainer clean through effective brushing and flossing.
- Your child should continue to see the pediatric dentist for regular dental visits.
- Dr. Meredith will evaluate when the time is right to remove the space maintainer at regular checkups. If you see the permanent tooth coming in under the space maintainer between visits, call our office so that we can help determine if the spacer can be removed!