Space Maintainers in Stratham

what are space maintainers?

Space maintainers are removable or fixed orthodontic attachments used to hold the space of a missing tooth. They are used for baby teeth that have been lost prematurely to prevent the surrounding teeth from shifting and moving into this space. 

Baby teeth naturally perform the function of space maintainers so the permanent teeth know where to erupt. When they are lost too early, this can affect the permanent tooth’s ability to come in properly. The orthodontic appliance is a band and loop device that connects the abutment teeth on either side of the gaps and holds them into place. 

When the permanent tooth is due to erupt, the space maintainer will be removed. If your child has a missing tooth, contact us at Great Bay Orthodontics to schedule a consultation with Dr. John Walsh today.

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how it works: The space maintainer Process

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During your consultation, Dr. John Walsh will examine your child’s teeth to determine if their missing tooth warrants a space maintainer and which type.

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For a fixed space maintainer, Dr. Walsh will take impressions of your child’s teeth and send them to an outside dental lab to create custom-fitted space maintainers that will hold the abutment teeth into place snugly but not too tightly.

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When the custom space maintainer is ready, we will fit it onto your child’s abutment teeth and make any necessary adjustments. Then, it will be cemented into place.

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Your child will need to return for regular checkups so Dr. John can remove the space maintainers at the appropriate time. Depending on how early the tooth was lost and when the permanent tooth is due to erupt, the space maintainer could be worn for a few years before being removed.

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Why would my child need a space Maintainer?

Space maintainers are used for preventing teeth from shifting and to hold space for the permanent teeth to come in. Your child may need space maintainers if they have tooth loss from:

  • Decay that requires extraction
  • Infected tooth
  • Infected gums
  • Dental trauma
  • Over-retained baby teeth
  • Orthodontics

Will my child always need a space maintainer for a missing tooth? 

No, tooth loss does not inherently indicate that a space maintainer is needed. This depends on multiple factors, such as the location of the tooth, how soon the permanent tooth will erupt, medical conditions, ability to cooperate during the procedure, and if they have other orthodontic problems.

The only teeth in the mouth that you do not need to worry about losing are the upper or lower four front teeth. When you lose teeth in these spaces, they will stay in place until your permanent teeth are ready to come through.

Your dentist may also not recommend space maintainers if your child’s permanent tooth is already showing signs of eruption or if they will come in very soon. These spaces may be better off left alone. However, if your child already requires orthodontic appliances such as braces, this increases the likelihood they will need space maintainers. 

Space maintainers are generally used for a single missing tooth. If your child has multiple missing teeth, other treatments may need to be considered. The ability to cooperate for the placement of space maintainers is extremely important. Young children who can not sit still or have extreme dental anxiety will make attaching the space maintainers very difficult or impossible.

what types of space maintainers are there?

Space maintainers can be fixed or removable, but in most cases fixed space maintainers are preferable. They are also available as unilateral or bilateral maintainers, meaning they are maintaining the space on one or both sides of the mouth. 

Other space maintainers include the lingual arch which connects the two primary molars on the upper and low arches of teeth and the distal shoe which is an alternative to band and loop maintainers. These are used for your child’s first permanent molars and consist of a stainless steel wire which extends over the unerupted tooth until it comes in.

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Have questions about emergency orthodontics? Find answers here.

What if I’m not sure my situation qualifies as an emergency?

When it comes to your health, it is always better to be safe than sorry. Give us a call and one of our team members will help decide if a visit to the office is necessary. If not, they’ll be sure to provide you with recommendations on effective home treatments.

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What should I do if my brackets are loose?

If your brackets are loosening and aggravating your mouth, place a small amount of wax on the part causing discomfort. If a bracket has fully detached from your braces, simply put it in a plastic bag or envelope and bring it with you to your next appointment.

What should I do if my wires are loose?

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If your loose wire is poking your mouth, use a pair of tweezers or needle-nosed pliers to try and put it back into place. You can also use a string of floss to secure the wire back into its proper form by tying it around the bracket. If neither of these options ease your wire into a more comfortable position, use a small fingernail clipper to trim the wire and add wax to keep it from poking.

What should I do if my TIES come off?

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Ties, also known as ligatures, are tiny rubber bands or fine wires that hold the wire to the bracket. If your ties pop off, use a sterile set of tweezers to ease it back into place. It’s possible for other ties to pop off when one breaks. Be sure to examine all of your ties, and if you’re unsure of what to do, don’t hesitate to call our office.

What should I do if my braces are causing mouth sores?

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Braces can often irritate the mouth, but luckily, there is a solution. Gently stick a small amount of wax to buffer the area between metal and mouth. This can work wonders for patients that are new to braces, and can especially help patients eat more comfortably. If you accidentally swallow the wax, don’t panic. The wax is harmless and won’t cause discomfort or digestion problems.

Is it normal for my braces to hurt?

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It’s completely normal to feel slight discomfort for a couple of days as your teeth, gums, cheeks, and mouth get used to your new braces. After this short period, the pain should ease as your teeth and jaw begin to adapt to the pressure.

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Chewy, sticky, and crunchy foods can cause wear and tear on your braces.

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