Holding the Space

By Catherine M. Fascilla, D.D.S.

If a child loses a baby tooth early in life, your dentist may recommend treatment with a space maintainer. A space maintainer is an appliance which holds space for the permanent adult tooth. Baby teeth are important because each one guides an adult tooth into place. If a baby tooth is prematurely lost due to an accident or decay, the surrounding teeth should be held in place to prevent closing of the space created by the lost tooth. Your dentist may recommend a “spacer” or space maintainer if he or she feels that one is necessary for the future health of your child. Back teeth are much more likely to shift than front teeth and a space maintainer is very important if the permanent tooth is not due to erupt for several years.

The space maintainer should be placed as soon as possible after the loss of the baby tooth. Teeth may sometimes shift position within only a few weeks after their loss. Remember, the loss of a baby tooth should be taken seriously. Proper tooth alignment is critical for preventing premature wear and gum disease in the permanent teeth.

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