Pediatric Space Maintainer: What You Need to Know

Your child gets their first tooth around six months old and loses their first baby tooth about five or six years later. Both of these are important and exciting milestones for the child and parents. The remainder of the baby teeth are eventually lost to make room for the erupting adult teeth. However, your child may lose a tooth earlier than you expected. When this occurs, your dentist can advise whether your child needs a pediatric space maintainer.

Our pediatric dentists are committed to children’s oral health. For more information, schedule an appointment.

What are Pediatric Space Maintainers?

Permanent or adult teeth develop before we are born. Baby teeth fall out, and permanent teeth erupt at relatively predictable ages during childhood. However, a child may lose a baby tooth early—before the permanent tooth has developed enough to erupt. If this time lag is too long, the gap left by the lost tooth can cause problems.

Pediatric space maintainers are dental devices that temporarily close the gap left by premature baby tooth loss. There are different types of space maintainers made of acrylic, stainless steel, or a combination of these materials. 

What Causes Early Baby Tooth Loss?

Baby (deciduous or primary) teeth help your child chew and speak. They also serve the critical function of maintaining space as the jaws and permanent teeth develop. Although parents are typically aware of the approximate ages when each tooth will get loose and fall out, a premature loss is common. The possible reasons for the early loss of baby teeth include the following:

  • Trauma to the mouth.

  • Extensive tooth decay.

  • Infected tooth or gum.

  • Neonatal tooth removal.

  • Congenitally missing baby tooth or teeth.

  • Certain medical conditions.

5 Complications of Early Baby Tooth Loss

If your child prematurely loses baby teeth, several complications can result—here are some of the most common:

  1. Speech problems. Your child’s lips, tongue, cheeks, palate, and teeth play crucial roles in speech development. One missing tooth can make it difficult to say certain words clearly.

  2. Chewing and digestion issues. Each tooth’s size, shape, and location help your child chew their food adequately and facilitates proper digestion. Missing teeth can interfere with this process to create possible nutritional deficiencies. Additionally, insufficient chewing poses a choking risk.

  3. Misaligned permanent teeth. Each baby tooth is a placeholder for a permanent tooth. With premature tooth loss, the adjacent teeth begin shifting into the space. This can limit the room for permanent tooth eruption, which can create crowding, crooked, and misaligned adult teeth.

  4. Impacted permanent teeth. Occasionally, adjacent teeth excessively close the gap of the missing tooth and prevent the permanent tooth’s eruption. The adult tooth remains impacted beneath the gum until dental procedures are performed to create adequate space for its eruption.

  5. Impaired facial development. Baby teeth stimulate the healthy development of a child’s facial bones and muscles. Premature loss can impact facial development and lead to problems in adulthood, such as a narrow airway and sleep apnea.

Schedule Appointment

Trident Dental can help you and your child maintain healthy teeth and gums with our wide array of dental services. Our pediatric services include:

  • Placing dental sealants.

  • Applying professional fluoride treatments.

  • Ensuring proper tooth alignment.

  • Solving problems such as thumb sucking.

Schedule Appointment

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