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Space maintenance

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What are Space Maintainers?

Caring for your child’s oral health is equally important as their general health. It will establish confidence in them and also plays a major role in nutrition and their overall well being. Early loss of teeth can cause difficulty in speech and their chewing abilities.

Deciduous teeth are often neglected in society because of their shorter time of existence in oral cavity. However, they are equally important as they guide the permanent tooth to erupt in their place and hence aiding a proper alignment.

When a deciduous or commonly called as milk tooth is lost at an early age(i.e. before an year of eruption of permanent tooth) , we usually prevent the drifting of other tooth into the space allotted for permanent teeth to erupt. This procedure is called as space maintenance.

Some Common Causes of Early Falling of Primary Tooth :
  1. Early childhood caries due to prolonged bottle feeding.
  2. Extractions of grossly decayed primary teeth.

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Types of Space Maintainers :

Depending on various factors space maintainers are broadly of two types.

  1. Removable space maintainers.
  2. Fixed space maintainers.
Functions of a Space Maintainer :
  1. To maintain the arch length ,width and circumferential area.
  2. To prevent supra eruption of opposing tooth.
  3. To improve speech abilities if the anterior tooth is lost.
  4. Improved esthetics if the tooth involved is anterior.
  5. Also aid in management of oral habits like thumb sucking etc…
How to wear a Space Maintainer :

If it is a removable space maintainer , it requires some patience from the guardian’s side as it will take some time for the child to get accustomed to the appliance. Maintenance of the appliance plays a major role in preventing further infections. The child is advised to maintain his oral hygiene by regular brushing and flossing if required.

If it is a fixed space maintainer, the child is advised not to eat sticky foods, especially toffees and chewing gums as it may get stuck in between the appliance or the appliance may come off with the eatable And in general , the patient is advised not to put finger or tongue and try to tug the appliance as it leads to loosening of the appliance.

Constant monitoring is required from every 3 months to 6 months till the permanent tooth gets erupted.