Mind the Gap: Dealing with Prematurely Lost Baby Teeth
People get two sets of teeth, their primary teeth and their permanent teeth. Losing baby teeth is a normal, healthy part of life. As children grow, their baby teeth fall out to make room for the larger adult teeth that should last them for the rest of their lives. But some children might lose them too soon, usually from cavities or accidents. For others, not all their baby teeth grow in normally. If this should happen to your child, we may recommend a space maintainer.
Without a space maintainer, the premature loss of a tooth could lead to problems when the permanent teeth grow in. The baby teeth on either side of the gap can move closer together as your child grows, which can cause the adult teeth to grow in either crooked or crowded and, perhaps, make it more difficult to chew and speak.
Space maintainers are generally made out of either metal or plastic. There are two common types of space maintainers:
- a fixed maintainer that will generally be cemented in place between two other teeth. Often this will be in the form of a wire loop that simulates the continued presence of the missing tooth. In other cases, it will take the form of a temporary crown.
- a removable space maintainer that is created from a mold of your child’s mouth. It looks something like a retainer.
It is important for children with a space maintainer to take extra-special care of their teeth. Poor oral hygiene can cause the gums to swell up over the wire in a fixed maintainer, which can cause infection. Young children are also prone to playing with their space maintainers, which can cause the maintainers to end up misshapen and less effective.
If your child has a space maintainer, you must bring him or her in for follow-up appointments at KiDDS Dental at least every six months. That way we can ensure that the space maintainer is still in place, shaped properly and doing its job.
If you have questions about space maintenance, click here to schedule an appointment with Dr. Jared. Or give us a call at (509)-891-7070.