Does Your Child Need An Orthodontic Space Maintainer?

You may think that your child only needs orthodontic care in his or her teen years. However, it's a good idea to see an orthodontist when your child is young so that he or she can benefit from interceptive orthodontic care. Interceptive orthodontic care is about correcting issues while your child's jaws are still developing and while permanent teeth are still coming in. One interceptive orthodontic treatment you should look into is a space maintainer. 

What are Space Maintainers?

Like the name implies, a space maintainer is an orthodontic appliance that preserves space in your child's mouth. When posterior baby teeth are lost too early, molars and premolars have a tendency to shift. If these teeth shift, then they won't leave adequate space for incoming permanent teeth. Without adequate space, permanent teeth can come in crooked.

What do Space Maintainers Look Like?

These appliances are sometimes made with acrylic components, but usually, they consist of a metal band and a soldered wire loop. The metal band is placed around one of your child's molars, while the wire loop extends over the gum tissue. The wire loop holds the space for incoming teeth. Some space maintainers are removable, like retainers, while others may be cemented temporarily.

How are They Placed?

Your child will need to get his or her impression taken at a dental office. This impression is sent to a dental laboratory where a cast will be made from that impression. A dental technician will then create the space maintainer based on that cast so the appliance will fit perfectly in your child's mouth.

Before a space maintainer is placed, the orthodontist may place rubber separators between molars. The rubber separators will make it easier to place the space maintainer's metal bands later on. The rubber separators are removed at the time of the space maintainer's placement.

Once placed, it may take your child a few days to become used to the appliance. The orthodontist will teach your child how to properly take care of the appliance and how to clean it. If your child is particularly young, you may need to help him or her with brushing habits. Similar to braces, wires can break if your child eats sticky or chewy foods, so he or she may need to abstain from these things for a while.  

Not every child who loses teeth early needs a space maintainer, so you need to consult with your dentist or orthodontist to see if it would be beneficial. Look for an orthodontist office near you like Moricz Orthodontics to learn more.