A space maintainer is an oral device from our Mechanicsburg dental office that is placed around a tooth that is next to a space in the mouth where a tooth used to be to hold the gap open.
While losing baby teeth may seem inconsequential, the truth is they serve an important function in your child’s oral health and tooth development. Your child’s primary teeth are natural space maintainers, holding a space for the permanent tooth when it’s due to erupt.
When a primary tooth is lost prematurely, it can no longer perform this function and can result in orthodontic issues and impacted permanent teeth. The space maintainer remains in place until the permanent tooth is ready to erupt. Contact us to schedule an appointment today.
Dr. Odoom will examine your child’s tooth development and take x-rays to look for signs of eruption. If the tooth was due to fall out soon anyway, then you may not require a space maintainer and the four front teeth spaces stay open regardless.
Stainless steel bands are placed on one or a few of the teeth. Then, our Mechanicsburg team will remove the bands and take physical or digital impressions of your child’s mouth and send these to a dental lab that will fabricate the space maintainer.
It takes a few days for the dental lab to fabricate your space maintainer. Once we receive it, we’ll call your child back for another appointment and place it on their tooth which only takes a few minutes. The bands are normally cemented to the teeth so they can’t remove it.
We may need to schedule future appointments to monitor their oral development. When the permanent tooth is on schedule for eruption or if it’s showing signs of eruption, the oral appliance will be removed.
Your child needs to practice good oral hygiene by brushing twice a day with a soft-bristle toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste for at least two minutes.
They should also floss once a day, preferably with a water flosser which can more easily reach between the space maintainer than thread floss. Your child should avoid eating foods that are too sticky or chewy, like gum or caramel, because this can break or dislodge the space maintainer.
We also advise against using teeth as tools to open things, as this can also damage the space maintainer. Avoid fidgeting or playing with the space maintainer. Attend regular dental appointments in Mechanicsburg to monitor your oral health and tooth development.