Space maintainer, an device used by dentists or orthodontists made from metal or acrylic. It can either be cemented or be removed from the child’s mouth. Its purpose is to maintain space and allow the permanent tooth to erupt in place. There may be the need of the space maintainers if children lose their teeth at an early age, or have a primary tooth extracted due to dental decay.
In this article, we will discuss the need, maintenance and the types of dental space maintainers.
Need for dental space maintainers
- When the child loses his/her teeth in early age.
- Its main purpose is to maintain space and allow the permanent tooth to erupt in place.
- If the space is not maintained, there is a possibility of shifting of teeth to open space.
- In some cases primary tooth may be missing, in order to avoid the coming (permanent) tooth erupt properly in space, space maintainers are required.
- Moreover, space maintainers are used to ensure enough room for the permanent tooth.
Types of dental space maintainers
Space maintainers are of two types: fixed and removable
- Removable: These space maintainers are similar to the appliance used in orthodontic treatment and are made from acrylic material.
- Fixed: There are four different kinds of fixed space maintainers; crown and loop, distal shoe, unilateral and lingual.
- Unilateral and crown and loop: This type of space maintainers are placed on the one side of the mouth. The unilateral space maintainer when placed will wrap around the outside of the tooth connecting to a metal loop that holds the space intact. The crown and loop space maintainers are the actual crown covering the tooth and are attached to the loop so as to ensure that there is enough space for erupting tooth.
- Distal shoe space maintainer: This type of space maintainer is generally used for un-erupted permanent molar tooth. This is the most complicated maintainer, as the metal is inserted in the gums for keeping the space open from closing. The dentist will also monitor the progress of eruption of permanent molar.
- Lingual space maintainer: This maintainers are bilateral in nature and are cemented to the molars connected by a wire. This is usually used for one missing tooth.
Care and maintenance
At first space maintainers may feel unusual. But after a few days you get used to it. For keeping the gum tissues healthy, your child needs to brush their teeth regularly. When there are space maintainers are applied, your child should avoid sticky or hard food and chew gum and candies. This can loosen the band and get easily caught in the wires. See the dentist at regular intervals and get your space maintainer’s position checked, as if they become loose, there is a possibility of swallowing or inhaling through the lungs.
Finally, see to it that your child should not push on the space maintainers using their fingers, which can bend or loosen the wires.