San Francisco, Marin, and Oakland, CA
Tooth loss increases your risk of developing oral health issues over time. If your child loses a baby tooth early, the risks can magnify. If this has happened to your child, the San Francisco orthodontist at Glen Park Dental can install a space maintainer to safeguard your child against potential oral health problems stemming from a tooth lost prematurely.
What is a space maintainer, and why is it important?
Also called a space saver, a space maintainer is an oral appliance that is placed in the mouth and fills the open area where a missing tooth once resided. This placeholder keeps the gap open until it is replaced by a permanent tooth.
Baby teeth fall out naturally as permanent teeth prepare to erupt from the gum line. However, if your child loses a baby tooth early because of tooth decay or an injury, this can lead to problems with bite alignment. The permanent tooth in that location in the mouth may come in crooked. Or, the adjacent primary teeth might shift into the open space, causing teeth to become crooked or hindering the eruption of the permanent tooth. Any problem with tooth alignment will increase the likelihood your child will need orthodontic treatment such as braces or Invisalign when he or she reaches adolescence.
There are two types of space maintainers:
- Made of plastic, these space maintainers can be taken in and out of the mouth similar to other oral appliances like mouth guards. These typically are used only in highly visible areas of the mouth
- This type of space maintainer is bonded into the mouth in the existing gap. This is the most common variety of space maintainer that is used.
At Glen Park Dental, we customize each of our space maintainers and guarantee the best effectiveness and fit possible for every one of our patients. To determine which space maintainer is best, we will conduct a thorough evaluation of your child’s oral health. A recommendation will be made based on the findings.
What can my child expect when receiving a space maintainer?
Receiving a space maintainer is a relatively easy process that takes place in our office, but you and your child should be aware of the following:
- Eating may be difficult the first few days, stick with easy to chew foods at first
- The new appliance may affect speech but it will go back to normal within several days
- Teeth may be sore as the space maintainer settles, but this discomfort should subside quickly
- Should any portion of the piece become damaged, please contact our office immediately for repairs or adjustments
Care tips for space maintainers
Good oral hygiene is crucial. No matter what type of space maintainer you are using, it is important to keep the oral appliance clean and free of plaque. The gum tissue underneath a space maintainer may be particularly vulnerable to infection. Encourage your child to brush twice a day and floss daily, including the space maintainer. Take extra care to remove all food debris from around the appliance at night. Also, avoid tugging or pushing on the wire with your tongue or finger. Your child should limit his or her consumption of chewy and sugary foods to prevent damage to the appliance.
Space Maintainers in San Francisco
If your child has lost one or more of their baby teeth due to decay or injury, contact our office at (415) 585-1500 today to learn more about space maintainers.
Glen Park Dental is here to serve patients in the areas of Marin, Oakland, and San Francisco, California.