Although baby teeth are eventually lost, they serve several critical functions for your child. Primary (baby) teeth provide proper chewing function, encourage normal development of jaw bones and muscles, are important elements in speech development, and also save proper spacing for permanent teeth.
Sometimes a baby tooth is lost too early. Maybe there was a problem with dental disease or perhaps an accident knocked out a tooth. Anytime a tooth is lost too early, your child’s dentist may recommend a space maintainer.
A space maintainer does just that – it maintains the space left by a lost tooth. It prevents shifting and drifting of other teeth until the permanent tooth can grow in. Without a space maintainer, teeth may shift in the jaw or shift positions, causing crowding or crooked permanent teeth. Using a space maintainer will be much easier and more cost effective than attempting to correct crooked or crowded permanent teeth with orthodontic treatment.
Once a space maintainer is placed, your child will need to avoid chewing gum or sticky foods. They will need to keep the area clean with consistent brushing and flossing. At each routine dental visit, your child’s dentist will assess when the space maintainer is no longer needed.