Pediatric Dentistry in Chanhassen, MN
At Bluff Creek Dental, our mission is to help families throughout the Chanhassen, MN area achieve gorgeous, healthy smiles through great dental treatment. Our practice is proud to take a comprehensive approach to dental care, designing personalized treatments that prioritize preventive dentistry to safeguard a healthy smile for the long haul. We’re proud to treat patients of all ages at our office, and one of the most common pediatric dental treatments we recommend is using space maintainers.
The Importance of Baby Teeth
Even though they eventually fall out, baby teeth have important responsibilities in dental development. Children learn to bite, chew, and speak with their baby teeth, and the baby teeth also help guide permanent teeth into the correct positions as they erupt. This is why proper dental hygiene is still vital with baby teeth; a full set of baby teeth helps ensure that the permanent teeth grow into a healthy alignment.
In some cases, however, a baby tooth might fall out prematurely. Whether it’s due to dental trauma or disease, losing a baby tooth too early can cause the adjacent teeth to drift into the gap left by the missing baby tooth, throwing off the alignment of the teeth and causing the permanent teeth to erupt out of position. This produces a crowded, crooked smile, and in severe cases can even block a permanent tooth from coming out altogether.
What Are Space Maintainers?
Fortunately, our pediatric dentistry services can provide a simple, convenient, and effective dental appliance to prevent alignment problems when a baby tooth falls out too early. Called a “space maintainer” or a “space maintenance appliance,” this is a metal or plastic oral appliance that serves to keep the gap left behind by a tooth open, leaving enough space for the permanent tooth underneath to grow in correctly.
Space maintainers can be either fixed or removable. Fixed space maintainers are cemented to the adjacent teeth, creating a permanent solution for space maintenance that stays in place until the permanent tooth erupts. Fixed space maintainers generally consist of a metal or plastic loop that spans the gap left by the missing tooth, which is then fixed to either a band or a stainless steel crown that’s placed on one of the adjacent teeth. Fixed space maintainers are most commonly used in younger children, as we tend to run into fewer compliance issues and can avoid needing to replace the maintainer.
Removable space maintainers use a different design. These closely resemble the types of removable retainers worn after orthodontic treatment, and they can even be made with an artificial tooth to replace the missing tooth. These space maintainers are particularly useful when the lost tooth had a prominent place in the smile, but they’re more recommended for older children who can care for the appliance properly.
Whether using a fixed or removable space maintainer, diligent at-home oral hygiene is critical to caring for both the maintainer and the teeth. Your child will continue to wear his/her custom-manufactured appliance until dental x-rays show us that the underlying permanent tooth is just about to erupt.
Space Maintainers for Congenitally Missing Teeth
Prematurely losing a baby tooth is by far the most common reason for space maintainers, but it’s not the only situation where maintainers can help. Space maintainers may also be appropriate if your child has any teeth that are congenitally missing: teeth that never developed in the first place. In this case, eventually we’ll likely recommend that your child receives a permanent dental implant to replace the tooth. But because implants aren’t suitable for growing children, we can use a removable space maintainer with a false tooth to help the jaw develop and provide a complete smile for your child until we can feasibly place a dental implant.
Schedule a Consultation with Your Chanhassen, MN Kids Dentist
Space maintainers play an important role in helping children develop healthy, beautiful smiles. If you you think your child might benefit from one, we’d love to help. Contact us today to learn more about the role of space maintainers in pediatric dentistry, and don’t hesitate to request an appointment online if you’d like to get started right away. We can’t wait to hear from you!