Space Maintainers in Austin, TX
If your child loses a baby tooth early because of trauma or tooth decay, we may recommend using a space maintainer. Space maintainers work similarly to adult fixed bridges, but rather than filling the space with an artificial tooth, the space is kept open to make room for the permanent tooth.
The role that baby teeth play is essential for the healthy development of your child’s teeth and jaw. Baby teeth act as a placeholder for permanent teeth, allowing them to emerge in the proper position when baby teeth are lost. If a tooth is lost early and space is not maintained, surrounding teeth can shift into the open space and your child may eventually need orthodontic treatment.
Types of Space Maintainers
The best way to describe the different types of space maintainers is to break them down into two categories: unilateral and bilateral.
Unilateral space maintainers are placed on one side of the mouth to hold a space for a tooth. It wraps around the outside of the tooth and connects to a metal loop to hold the space open.
Bilateral space maintainers: There are two types of bilateral space maintainers; one for the top teeth and one for the bottom teeth. On the bottom, there are rings that are fit around the back molars and a wire that is shaped like an arch that fits on the inside of the lower teeth. On the top, the rings are fit to the back molars and the arch is placed against the roof of the mouth. These types of space maintainers are usually used when there are multiple teeth missing on one side of the mouth or teeth missing on both sides.
Both unilateral and bilateral space maintainers are cemented in the mouth until the permanent teeth are ready to come in.
Wearing a Space Maintainer
Once we decide that your child would benefit from using a space maintainer, Dr. Poplin will customize the appliance to fit your child’s mouth precisely. We will place the space maintainer and give you instructions for its care and use.
It may take your child a couple days to get used to wearing the appliance. Since the space maintainer is fixed, make sure your child avoids chewy and sugary foods as well as gum or candy that can loosen or get caught on the appliance. We will schedule regular follow-up visits at our Austin dental office to monitor the progress of your child’s treatment with the space maintainer.
Candidates for Space Maintainers
Not every child who loses a baby tooth early will need a space maintainer. Nature is very effective at holding space after the loss of front teeth, but it’s the teeth along the side of the mouth that tend to cause problems.
Dr. Poplin has worked with many orthodontic cases over the years and will advise you if your child would benefit from using a space maintainer. Every child is different, and we will develop a plan that’s most appropriate for your child’s needs.
Using a space maintainer is an effective way to help your child's teeth come in where they are supposed to. It can save you time and money in the long term because using a space maintainer may eliminate the need for orthodontics. Please contact our office to arrange an evaluation with Dr. Poplin if you'd like to learn more about space maintainers.