In dental development, baby teeth play a very important role in relation to the permanent teeth that follow. As permanent teeth grow they need a guide to show them where to move. With a baby or “primary” tooth, they have this guide. Permanent teeth know where to move and how to erupt so that they are in the same location as the baby tooth before it. However, if a baby tooth is lost prematurely, the permanent tooth won’t have this beacon to follow, and as a result may grow erratically.
To prevent against this, dental space maintainers can be used to hold the space as the permanent tooth begins its eruption process. As the name suggests, these space maintainers, hold the empty space produced from a tooth that has fallen out. Without a space maintainer the adjacent teeth may move to cover this empty spot, causing problems when the permanent tooth finally does erupt.
Space maintainers can be removable or permanent, depending on the situation and stage in a child’s development. These space maintainers can be a temporary crown connected to one side of the empty space, or may just be a band inserted by the dentist. In either case, these areas need to be taken care of by patients and their parents in order to maintain functionality.
If your child has lost a baby tooth, early in his/her development process, feel free to contact us for more information on dental space maintainers.