Tooth Loss in Kids
While healthy, regular tooth loss and the shedding of primary teeth is expected in children, not all tooth loss is natural or desirable. Young children are just as susceptible to unintended tooth loss, or edentulism, as a result of tooth decay or dental damage from trauma, gum disease, and infections.
Good dental health, or lack thereof, has a comparably outsized impact on children compared to their adult counterparts. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), tooth decay is the number one chronic health problem affecting children. And, despite decades of education aimed at both children and parents emphasizing the importance of good oral health routines, about 1 of 5 children between 5 to 11 years old still suffer from untreated tooth decay. With such high rates of tooth decay amongst children, it’s no wonder tooth loss has become a concern for dentists and caretakers alike.
When a severely decayed tooth has reached a terminal stage and cannot be salvaged, what should parents do then? What if replacing a lost tooth in a child’s mouth isn’t an option?
That’s where dental space maintainers become the solution.
What Is A Space Maintainer?
As the name suggests, a dental space maintainer occupies the space left behind by baby teeth that have either fallen out or been extracted as a result of decay. Unlike replacement teeth, a space maintainer is only concerned with retaining space in a child’s arch. They won’t aid in chewing, speech development, or address aesthetic concerns. They will, however, help guide the eruption of adult teeth into their proper locations thereby promoting good future dental and oral health.
Without a space maintainer, teeth will naturally migrate and shift about wreaking havoc on dental alignment and the eruption of adult teeth.
Space Maintainer Types
Space maintainers come in a variety of shapes and sizes for various dental applications and needs.
Typically, space maintainers are divided into two distinct categories: fixed and removable space maintainers.
Fixed maintainers are affixed to one or more teeth with dental cement.
Removable maintainers, on the other hand, most resemble orthotic appliances, such as partial acrylic dentures, and can be removed and replaced. Full or complete dentures, as well as removable distal shoe space maintainers, are regarded as removable maintainers.
Fixed space maintainers come in four varieties: unilateral, crown and loop, distal shoe, and lingual. Each has it’s own strengths, weaknesses, and specific application uses. It is best to consult with the dental specialists at Willow Pass Dental Care to determine which application will work best for your child.
Fixed space maintainer solutions have some crucial advantages over removable alternatives.
- Fixed maintainers require little to no tooth preparation.
- They won’t get in the way of adjacent dental eruptions.
- They do not impact jaw growth.
- They can be a practical solution for uncooperative children who may otherwise be tempted to remove non-fixed maintainers.
Fixed solutions also have some drawbacks. The primary concern associated with the fabrication and placement of fixed space maintainers is the skill of the dentist and the elaborate instrumentation required.
It is essential to choose a pediatric dentist like Willow Pass Dental Care in Concord, CA who has the team talent, skill, and experience necessary to create and fit maintainers in a child's mouth correctly. Successful or unsuccessful results often hinge on the dentist. At Willow Pass Dental Care, parents and kids alike can rest easy knowing that a competent and experienced dental team is in place.
Four Common Types of Fixed Space Maintainers
Unilateral Space Maintainer
Unilateral space maintainers primarily employed to hold a space for a primary molar that falls out too early.
Band and Loop Space Maintainer and Crown and Loop Space Maintainer
Band and loop maintainers use stainless steel wire and orthodontic bands that allow the permanent tooth below to erupt unhindered. It is used most commonly employed when one or more primary molars are lost in a single arch. Dental crowns are sometimes also included in this treatment and are known as a crown and loop space maintainer.
Distal Shoe Space Maintainer
A distal shoe maintainer is used when the second primary molar requires extraction before the eruption of a permanent first molar. When the molar erupts, a distal shoe retainer is typically replaced with another type of space maintainer.
Lingual Arch Space Maintainer
Lingual arch space maintainers are primarily employed to maintain space in the lower back teeth. It is a fixed, passive, non-functional space-maintaining appliance.
The Importance of Space Maintainers for Dental Health
Pediatric space maintainers can serve an essential role in a child’s early physical, emotional, and social development. One significant reason for children and toddlers to get space maintainers for missing teeth before the eruption of their adult teeth is to help guide and ensure that those secondary teeth erupt correctly and without complications.
Space maintainers help hold and retain the spacing of the teeth in a child’s mouth while awaiting their adult dentition. Preventing existing teeth from drifting or previously erupted teeth from blocking the eruption of other teeth ensures a healthy oral structure as a child’s teeth and mouth mature.
Remember, healthy baby teeth lead to healthy adult teeth.
Bring Your Child to Willow Pass Dental Care For A Checkup Today!
Willow Pass Dental Care is dedicated to providing the best pediatric dental care for children. Dr. Reza Khazaie and team will be able to identify any signs of dental malaise best before it gets out of hand, address any pressing dental concerns, and provide you with the care and advice you and your child needs to build healthy dental habits.
Whether your child needs space maintainers or any other dental, oral, orthodontic, or prosthodontic treatment, Willow Pass Dental Care is known as the leading dentist in Concord, CA. Call us today at 925-326-6114 to schedule an appointment or complete the form below.