Q. What are space maintainers?
Space maintainers are appliances made of metal or plastic that are custom fit to your child’s mouth. They are small and unobtrusive in appearance. Most children easily adjust to them after the first few days.
Q. Why do children lose their baby teeth?
A. A baby tooth usually stays in place until a permanent tooth underneath pushes it out and takes its place. Unfortunately, some children lose a baby tooth too soon. A tooth might be knocked out accidentally or removed because of dental disease. When a tooth is lost too early, your pediatric dentist may recommend a space maintainer to prevent future space loss and dental problems.
Q. Why all the fuss? Baby teeth fall out eventually on their own!
A. Baby teeth are important to your child’s present and future dental health. They encourage the normal development of the jaw bones and muscles. They save space for the permanent teeth and guide them into position. Remember: Some baby teeth are not replaced until a child is 12 -14 years old.
Q. How does a lost baby tooth cause problems for permanent teeth?
A. If a baby tooth is lost too soon, the teeth beside it may tilt or drift into the empty space. Teeth in the other jaw may move up or down to fill the gap. When adjacent teeth shift into the empty space, they take up the needed space for the permanent teeth underneath. This causes permanent teeth to become crowded. If left untreated, the condition may require future orthodontic treatment.
Q. What special care do space maintainers need?
A. It is best to avoid sticky sweets or chewing gum, and not to tug or push on the space maintainer with the fingers or tongue. Keep the space maintainer clean with careful brushing and flossing. Your dentist will check on the space maintainer when your child returns for regular examination and teeth cleaning.
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