When Are Space Maintainers Necessary?
Space maintainers are most commonly used to treat patients with mixed dentition. When a patient has some baby teeth in place and some adult teeth beginning to erupt underneath, then space maintainers are an excellent way to prevent crowding and decrease reliance on orthodontic treatments down the road, explains Dr. Jordan J. Balvich, DMD, PC, a cosmetic dentistry expert in Rensselaer, Indiana.
Dr. Balvich is most likely to recommend space maintainers in cases where a child happens to lose one or more baby teeth prematurely. In these cases, a space maintainer would be used to hold the space open for the developing adult teeth to grow in. Without a space maintainer, Dr. Balvich says the baby teeth would most likely begin to shift and cover over the opening where the adult tooth was expected to grow. This would force the adult tooth to grow in crookedly or misaligned.
It takes far less time for a tooth to move than most people realize. In fact, the Rensselaer cosmetic dentistry expert says it takes almost no time at all. If a space where adult teeth are expected to grow in is covered up by baby teeth that shifted, then the permanent teeth have nowhere to come in. This can lead to a more difficult situation later on, since it is easier to maintain a space and keep it open than it is to regain that space down the line. In some cases, a person in this situation might possibly lose a permanent tooth due to extraction.
Space maintainers can be used at any age during childhood, it just depends on when a child’s baby tooth is lost. Once the space maintainer goes in, then it will stay in place until the Rensselaer cosmetic dentistry specialist suspects an adult tooth is starting to grow in underneath. At this point, the dentist will remove the space maintainer and use x-ray technology to determine with certainly whether the adult tooth is coming in. Once the adult tooth pokes through the bone, the space maintainer will come off.
Interestingly, the Rensselaer cosmetic dentistry expert says space maintainers can sometimes be used in adult teeth, as well. Some adults will lose a permanent tooth for whatever reason, and if they can’t afford bridges, implants, partial dentures, or something more permanent to fill the gap, then a space maintainer can serve as a temporary substitute. When the time is right and the patient can afford to move forward in his or her treatment, Dr. Balvich says the space maintainer will come off and the permanent replacement will go in.
Rensselaer, IN 47978
*Disclaimer: The information on this website is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your healthcare provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with an appropriate healthcare provider.