We love baby teeth, especially for the role they play in creating a healthy bite for a child. Until the teen years, baby teeth work to help a child’s speech develop, aid with chewing and digestion, and assist with the development of healthy upper and lower arches. These temporary teeth work really hard to save space for developing adult teeth and act as a guidance mechanism during eruption – so that adult teeth have an idea of where they should end up. But what if baby teeth begin to decay, become infected, or worse, knocked out due to trauma? What happens to the spaces those teeth were protecting for the permanent tooth?
Space Maintainers ‘Hold’ Space.
If a child loses a tooth prematurely, it’s not the end of the world. Thanks to a small appliance called a space maintainer, the adult tooth can still have its space waiting for it when it erupts. Space maintainers are made from wire and are uniquely crafted from an impression of the child’s bite. A space maintainer is designed to hold the space where the baby tooth was and remains in place until the permanent tooth shows signs of erupting. But why is this necessary? Why is it important to maintain space, and what happens if a space maintainer is not used?
Protecting your Child’s Bite.
The purpose of a space maintainer is to protect your child’s bite and prevent other teeth drifting into the space that is needed for another tooth to erupt. A lack of space in either the upper or lower arch can lead to crowding and the collapse of the ideal arch formation. Adult teeth that have already erupted on either side of the ‘space’ can start drifting out of place and end up taking up the space that a soon to erupt tooth needs. The result is that the tooth that is still trying to erupt has to find another path – often erupting behind or in front of other teeth, or even coming in sideways or crooked. When needed space is protected, all teeth have an opportunity to erupt normally, and a child’s bite gets the best chance of ideal development.
At Apple Dental, we take your child’s bite seriously. And that means helping you to make the best decision for your child’s future oral health. If your child is experiencing problems with their baby teeth such as decay or infection, it’s important that space is maintained for their adult teeth. Call Apple Dental Group on Elbow Drive and learn more about our dental team today!