By Brianne Jones, RDH
Your child’s primary teeth (baby teeth) play an important role in their dental health. Not only do they save space for the permanent teeth but they also help guide them into position and encourage normal development of the jaw bones and muscles.
A baby tooth usually stays in place until the permanent tooth underneath pushes it out and takes its place. If your child looses a baby tooth too early, the adjacent teeth are more likely to tilt or drift into the empty space and create limited space in the jaw for the permanent tooth to erupt. If left untreated, the permanent tooth can come in crowded or be blocked from erupting.
A space maintainer works by keeping open the empty space left by the lost tooth. Usually made of metal, this temporary, custom-fitted appliance steadies the remaining teeth and prevents movement until the permanent tooth takes its natural position in the jaw.
Space maintainers are more affordable and easier on your child to keep teeth in normal positions than to move them back into place with orthodontic treatment.