Did your toddler fall off the bed and lose his/her tooth? If yes, it may be time for a check-up. Early tooth loss in kids can make the permanent tooth lose its guide and grow in a wrong position in the mouth. It can also make the surrounding teeth bend or move into the gap created. This reduces the space required for the development of the permanent tooth. In such a situation, your dentist may recommend using a space maintainer for your child.
Space maintainers maintain the space created as a result of the fallen baby tooth till the permanent tooth comes in. There are different types of space maintainers that can be found. They can be divided into four broad categories i.e. Unilateral, Bilateral, Fixed and Removable.
- Unilateral and Bilateral
Unilateral maintainers are fixed to one side of the mouth and are usually used to replace one tooth whereas bilateral maintainers are cemented on the back teeth and run along both sides of the mouth.
This type of space maintainer is fixed on the tooth/teeth on either side of the space in the child’s mouth and can be unilateral or bilateral in nature. This can be further divided into four categories:
- Band and loop
This space maintainer is unilateral in nature and is made of stainless steel wire. A crown is placed or an orthodontic band is wrapped around the tooth next to the empty space in the mouth. A wire loop that spreads across the open space is then attached to the crown or the band. This helps to keep the space open making it easy for the permanent tooth to erupt in the right position.
- Distal shoe
This type of maintainer is used when a baby loses a primary tooth located in front of a 6 year old molar that is not yet erupted. The unerupted 6 year old molar also called as the first permanent molar loses its guide due to premature loss of the primary tooth. Since there is no tooth surrounding the space created, a metal wire is inserted under the gum to keep the space from closing and act as a guide for the permanent tooth.
These maintainers are bilateral in nature and are generally used when the back teeth are lost on both sides of the mouth. A band is wrapped around each of the teeth behind the gaps created in mouth. A metal wire connected to the band then runs along the inside of the bottom teeth. This maintains the space created and leaves it open.
As the name suggests, these type of maintainers are removable in nature. They are generally made of acrylic and resemble orthodontic retainers. In many cases, an artificial tooth is used to fill in the gap created and leave the space open.
Note that not every fallen tooth requires a space maintainer. Hence it is always preferable to seek professional advice and consult a reputed dentist such as Dentzz Dental in India to help you make that decision.