Space Maintainer Applications
Milk teeth in children can be lost prematurely due to various reasons. Excessive decay, tooth trauma, thumb sucking, improper bottle and pacifier use, erosion and loss of milk tooth roots due to the eruption of permanent teeth from below, and inadequate breastfeeding can cause early loss of milk teeth.
Space Maintainers in Children
Space maintainers are movable or fixed appliances used to prevent space loss caused by prematurely lost or necessary extraction of milk teeth.
In cases of early loss of posterior teeth, the missing tooth can cause neighboring teeth to shift or tilt. As a result, the arch length required for permanent teeth decreases, and the space for the eruption of premolars and canines becomes narrower. This narrowing can lead to impaction or crowding of the premolars and canines. In such a situation, a child who would not normally require orthodontic treatment may need orthodontic correction.
Characteristics and Use of Space Maintainers
Space maintainers can be made of metal or plastic. Depending on the number and location of prematurely lost primary teeth, space maintainers are prepared in two forms: fixed space maintainers and removable space maintainers.
After taking the measurements from the mouth, the technician prepares the appropriate space maintainer in a laboratory setting. The prepared space maintainer is then adjusted in the patient’s mouth by the dentist. The patient wears the space maintainer under the supervision of the dentist, and it is removed when the permanent tooth starts erupting in place of the primary tooth.
Fixed Space Maintainers
These are made for single-tooth deficiencies. The following points should be considered during use:
- A follow-up appointment should be scheduled 3 months after installation.
- Sticky foods should not be chewed in the area where the space maintainer is placed.
- In case of any problem or movement of the space maintainer, a dentist should be consulted.
Removable Space Maintainers
These are made for multiple missing primary teeth. These space maintainers are removable appliances. The following points should be considered during use:
- Remove while eating,
- Store in water when going to sleep,
- Brush the space maintainer along with the teeth,
- Immediately inform the dentist if any breakage occurs in the space maintainer,
- Schedule a follow-up appointment 3 months after installation.
Functions of Space Maintainers
Space maintainers prevent the closing of extraction space by other teeth and ensure the eruption of permanent teeth in their ideal position and at the appropriate time. They prevent future orthodontic problems.
By preventing crowding, they help keep the teeth in their ideal position, promote a beautiful dentition, facilitate easy brushing of the teeth, and minimize the risk of dental decay in interface areas.
Precautions to Take After Space Maintainer Placement;
After the placement of space maintainers, certain precautions should be taken. Failure to observe these precautions may cause problems with the use of the space maintainer.
- Dental check-ups should be done every 6 months.
- Regular teeth brushing is essential.
- Fixed space maintainers should be removed under the supervision of the dentist.
- For removable space maintainers, it is sufficient to remove them while eating.
- Space maintainers should not be pushed or moved with fingers or tongue.
- In case of breakage or tension, they should be replaced immediately.
- The area around the teeth should be thoroughly disinfected to prevent damage to the placed teeth.