The trouble with early tooth loss: space maintainers to the rescue!

A common question we hear from parents is, “Why do you fix baby teeth since they’ll just fall out?” Our team at Christensen Pediatric Dental cannot overemphasize the importance of the primary (baby) teeth. These teeth not only give children something to chew with, but they also affect confidence, speech, facial development, and many other aspects of health. Treatment decisions have to take all these considerations into account. 

Where fillings “fill in” cavities or areas of decay, space maintainers fill in different gaps. Baby teeth that are lost prematurely–due to decay, infection, trauma, or something else–leave gaps that can create developmental problems in the mouth. Space maintainers (spacers) support development by promoting a healthy, functional, and confident smile by keeping room open for the developing adult teeth. 

Ideally, we’ll partner with you and your child early in an effort to prevent such damage to the teeth from occurring in the first place. But, when teeth are “too far gone” and the loss of the baby tooth cannot be avoided, there are options to preserve your child’s healthiest, happiest smile.

More detail about the trouble with early tooth loss

The lower front teeth or central incisors are typically the first you’ll notice in your child’s mouth. They usually peek through the gums at around the 6-month mark. Over the following two to six months, the upper front teeth appear. Every six months, around four teeth will break through. So, all baby teeth should be visible by your child’s third birthday. 

The jaw and facial bones develop to accommodate the permanent teeth. These secondary teeth replace the baby teeth starting at around the age of six. 

The first, early teeth are critical for several reasons, including: 

  • They reserve space for the larger, permanent teeth. 
  • They provide structure to your child’s face.
  • By promoting a balanced, pleasing appearance, they also support healthy self-esteem and confidence.
  • They guide permanent teeth into their proper places.
  • By encouraging proper positioning of the teeth, baby teeth also prevent malocclusion (misaligned teeth and “bites”).
  • By promoting straight teeth and jaws, the need for orthodontic treatment later in life is decreased.
  • They aid in clear speech and proper pronunciation.
  • They encourage the healthy development of the neighboring, supportive jaw bones, muscles, and other tissues. 
  • They allow for a healthy, varied, and nutritious diet of particular value to developing children.

Our range of preventive services and products protects these vital baby teeth. Those that are lost “ahead of schedule” must be addressed early. Neighboring teeth tend to drift into the space that was left behind. This process leads to complications such as crooked, crowded teeth and the need for more involved orthodontic correction. 

We can “hold” the space with the aptly named “space maintainers.” These lightweight oral appliances are designed in various ways; for instance, they may be fixed securely in place to a tooth, or they may be removable. These spacers can also feature wire attachments or bands. The best variants and designs for your child depend on factors such as the location of missing teeth, patient age, dental development, and existing occlusion (bite). All maintainers, however, work in much the same way to “maintain”, reserve, or set aside the space for the permanent tooth to grow in properly.Proactive care makes a difference during your child’s critical developmental years. Do not wait for problems to arise before scheduling an appointment at Christensen Pediatric Dental. Contact our team in Ogden, UT, today at (801) 845-3565.