Children lose their primary teeth (“baby teeth”) as soon as the permanent teeth become available. Some children may lose their baby teeth too early, i.e. before the replacement permanent teeth are ready to erupt. This can be due to a variety of reasons. To prevent adjacent teeth from shifting into the space, your pediatric dentist might recommend that your child’s primary tooth be removed as soon as possible.
The adjacent teeth may shift into the space if a baby tooth is removed prematurely. The permanent replacement tooth may become crooked, or even not grow in at all due to this shifting. A pediatric space keeper, also known as a pediatric dental spacer, is a dental appliance that holds the adjacent teeth in a stable place so that the permanent substitute tooth can grow properly.
Space keepers usually fall under one of the following categories:
There are many space-preserving designs available for each category. Based on many factors, such as the location of the missing tooth and the child’s oral hygiene habits, your pediatric dentist will recommend the best design for your child.
Fixed pediatric space keepers are preferred over removable ones in most cases due to the greater risk of breakage or loss.
A space preserver is not necessary for every child who has lost a baby tooth.
Your child’s pediatric dentist will assess a number of factors when deciding whether space keepers are necessary. The factors that will be considered include the location of the missing baby tooth, how long it has been since it was extracted, the development status of the replacement tooth, your child’s oral hygiene habits, and their health history.
It is important to see a pediatric dentist immediately if your child loses a baby tooth too quickly. This will help determine if a dental spacer would be beneficial for your child. It is common for adjacent teeth to move more quickly in the first six months after a premature tooth loss. Therefore, it is important that you make an appointment with your pediatric dentist immediately. This could save you from having to have extensive orthodontic work done in the future.
Space maintainers should be taken to their pediatric dentists for cleanings and regular checks. Your child’s pediatric dentist will inspect the space keeper at each check-up to make sure it is properly attached. Also, to determine if adjustments are necessary due to the ongoing growth and development in your child’s jaw and teeth.
Additionally, children with space keepers may make flossing difficult. Regular professional dental examinations and cleanings are therefore more important than ever.