A lot of parents don’t think they need to address “orthodontic” concerns until the early teen years for their children. However, parents should be aware of space maintainers, and the benefits they offer.
Space maintainers are sometimes recommended if your child has lost a tooth too early, or if they have been required to remove any of their pre-adult teeth due to decay. These space maintainers can truly benefit your child’s dental health, and even assist in the prevention of requiring orthodontics later in life.
Space Maintainers – The Process
Your dental professional would make a custom space maintainer for your child, which would be comprised of either acrylic or metal material, and would be cemented into your child’s mouth, or offer a removable option …depending on the reasoning for the appliance.
Space Maintainers – The Purpose
The main purpose of a space maintainer is often to keep the required space open for your child’s adult teeth to grow in effectively. If the baby teeth that have fallen out cause the other baby teeth to shift, it can prevent the adult teeth from erupting correctly. This will result in the crowding of teeth, later resulting in braces.
Space Maintainers – The Types
As mentioned, space maintainers come in two “types” – removable and fixed.
The removable ones are much like the ones you would receive after your orthodontic treatment, and are usually comprised of acrylic material.
The fixed ones come in four kinds …unilateral, crown and loop, distal shoe and lingual. Your dental professional would advise you to which device would be best for your child, and the reasoning behind each.
Space Maintainers – The Wearing
Once your child has received their space maintainer (providing it’s not fixed), it is imperative that they wear it in order for it to do the job it was intended for.
It will likely take your child a few days to get used to the appliance, and additional saliva might build up in the mouth due to a foreign object being present, but this will subside quickly as their mouth discovers it is “part of the mouth”.
Proper oral care is important, and cleaning this appliance will become part of that process also. As well, your child will have to learn how to clean around their space maintainer, to ensure plaque does not build up around it, which could result in decay.
In addition, ensuring your child is not eating sticky foods will be important. As with braces, their appliance can become dislodged or break due to hard or chewy food and candy.
Cleaning and regular checkups will also be an important part of your child’s optimal oral care, to ensure their teeth are growing in a healthy manner, within the guidelines of their space maintainer and otherwise.
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