If your child has lost a baby tooth early, but their permanent teeth have not yet grown in, you may want to consider dental spacers.
What are Dental Spacers?
A dental spacer is an oral appliance that helps maintain the space left behind by a missing baby tooth. They are custom-made, to fit each child’s teeth, and they help prevent the adjacent baby teeth from moving into the open space. They hold space for the adult teeth to grow in.
Space maintainers come in two types: removable and fixed. Fixed spacers are meant to be in place for a substantial amount of time, and are generally used for younger children who lose teeth or have major problems as their adult teeth start to come in.
Different Types of Fixed Spacers:
There are four different types of fixed space maintainers, including:
Unilateral Space Maintainers
Bilateral Space Maintainers
An adjustable band-and-loop space maintainer is a highly effective device for preserving the gap left by an extracted baby molar or following the eruption of your child’s first permanent molar. This dental appliance adheres to either the second baby tooth or first permanent one and then employs a flexible loop that attaches to another remaining neighboring infant tooth.
|Lower lingual holding arch (LLHA):
This twofold device fastens together a set of baby or permanent molars on the lower jaw, linking them with metal bands. Then, running along the backside of each tooth is an additional wire which helps to keep these teeth in their correct positions and allows for proper eruption when they come through.
The distal shoe space maintainer is for keeping a space open for a child’s unerupted permanent molars. It’s commonly used after a child loses a second baby molar prematurely. The distal shoe acts as a guide for the erupting permanent first molar, ensuring it grows in correctly. This space maintainer sometimes looks like a stainless steel crown with an extension segment attached.
|Nance Holding Arch:
The Nance Holding Arch is a beneficial tool in preserving the length of dental arches and preventing long-term molar displacement. To do this, an acrylic button is placed on the roof of a child’s mouth to hold everything in place while they move their teeth into alignment.
Do Spacers Hurt?
Spacers are not intended to shift or move teeth, making them painless and easily accepted by children. In most cases, kids become accustomed to their presence almost instantaneously.
How to Care for A Dental Spacer?
- Avoid eating hard or sticky foods: Hard or chewy candies and crunchy snacks can damage the dental spacer
- Keep the dental spacer always clean by brushing and flossing the area around it regularly
- Schedule pediatric dentist appointments on a regular basis to assess your child’s spacers
- Teach your children not to touch or push on the spacers with their fingers or tongue
With proper care and maintenance, dental spacers can assist in preserving your child’s oral health while keeping the space between their teeth open until permanent adult teeth grow through.
When to get them removed?
Space maintainers are designed to stay in place until the permanent teeth grow and naturally push them out. When an adult tooth starts to emerge, metal spring-type spacers must be taken out. However, acrylic spacers are pushed aside naturally by the incoming permanent teeth.
Space maintainers are securely affixed to a neighboring tooth, remaining until the child is between nine and twelve years old.
To conclude, dental spacers can be an effective tool for preserving the dental arch of children whose baby teeth have been lost prematurely. They help maintain space for adult teeth to grow in correctly and prevent adjacent teeth from shifting into the open space.
With proper care and maintenance, dental spacers are safe and comfortable. They should last until your child’s permanent teeth emerge.
Contact Us to Learn More
If you have any questions about getting spacers for your children, or any other pediatric dentistry questions, then don’t hesitate to give our staff a call, today!