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Losing Baby Teeth Prematurely Can Cause Your Child's Adult Teeth To Erupt Incorrectly. Here's How Space Maintainers Prevent It

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Many parents aren't too worried when a child loses a baby tooth due to tooth decay or an injury. After all, the tooth was going to fall out eventually. Is it harmful if it falls out too early?

Unfortunately, a baby tooth that's lost prematurely can lead to severe dental problems later in your child's life as his or her adult teeth begin to erupt. The two teeth adjacent to the lost tooth can slightly shift into the empty space, which prevents the adult tooth in that location from erupting correctly. It may be crowded together with the adjacent teeth when it erupts, or it may erupt either slightly in front of or behind those teeth. This problem can make it very difficult to brush and is expensive to correct.

To protect your child's dental health and ensure that his or her adult teeth erupt correctly, schedule an appointment with a pediatric dental clinic. If the missing tooth would cause your child's adult teeth to erupt incorrectly, your child will be given a space maintainer to wear. This device prevents the adjacent teeth from shifting into the lost tooth's position, which allows the adult tooth to erupt without any problems. To help you understand more about these devices, here's some more information about space maintainers.

What Types of Space Maintainers Are There?

There are two broad categories of space maintainers: removable and fixed. Removable space maintainers resemble retainers made of plastic. Your child wears the removable space maintainer as much as possible and only removes it for eating and drinking. Removable space maintainers aren't often used in pediatric dental clinics, as it's easy for children to lose them.

Fixed space maintainers are made of stainless steel, and they're securely cemented to your child's teeth. They're don't cause any pain, but it may take your child a few days to acclimate to eating and drinking after your pediatric dental clinic places the space maintainer.

How Do You Clean Space Maintainers?

Cleaning a space maintainer is easy, as all your child needs to do is brush and floss. In other words, continue maintaining good oral hygiene practices. Brushing and flossing the space maintainer will remove any bacteria that collects on it.

It's tempting for children to poke and prod at their space maintainer after it has been placed. Remind your child not to do this, as it can introduce bacteria into your child's mouth.

Can My Child Still Eat His or Her Favorite Foods With a Space Maintainer?

Your child needs to avoid food that can stick to the space maintainer. This includes chewing gum, dried fruit, and sticky candy such as taffy. It can easily stick to the space maintainer and become very difficult to brush off with a toothbrush.

What Happens to the Space Maintainer When My Child's Adult Tooth Erupts?

Space maintainers are temporary. Your pediatric dental clinic will closely monitor the progress of your child's adult teeth using X-ray imaging and will remove the space maintainer once the adult tooth is ready to erupt. The space maintainer is no longer necessary when the adult tooth is close to erupting, as it will naturally prevent the adjacent teeth from shifting into the empty gap.

In summary, space maintainers are easy to care for and only need to be worn until your child's adult tooth begins to erupt. They're very important to protect your child's dental health and prevent more severe issues from developing due to adult teeth that have erupted in the wrong locations. If your child has lost baby teeth prematurely, schedule an appointment with a pediatric dental clinic to determine if a space maintainer is necessary to protect your child's adult teeth.

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