Children Dentistry

Baby Teeth: Space Maintainer for Early Tooth Loss

Timeline of Baby Teeth Shedding

Most babies get their full set of baby teeth/primary teeth at around three years old.

At about age 6, they start to have the permanent teeth growing and gradually replace the primary teeth.

This process of replacing baby teeth takes about 6 years to complete.

Early Lost of Baby Tooth

In certain circumstances, a kid could lose a primary tooth before the permanent tooth is ready to grow.

It could be an accident, or it could because of a dental cavity with serious infection.

When such situation occurs, there will be concern if the premature tooth loss will cause misalignment of the remaining teeth and hence cause problem to the eruption of permanent teeth.


Challenge of Premature Baby Tooth Lost

When a baby tooth lost too early, two problems arises:

  1. The permanent tooth lose a guide as of where to come out
  2. The neighbour baby teeth lose the support and move into the space. The jaw is now smaller and the narrower space is insufficient for the permanent tooth to come out properly and hence become crowded.


Space Maintainer

As the name suggested, a space maintainer is a custom made appliance fitting into the space to keep the space.

It makes sure the neighbor teeth keep still and help to keep sufficient space for the permanent tooth to grow properly.

The design of the space maintainer comes in different forms, depending on the number of missing teeth and the location of it.

A most common space maintainer design is called Band and Loop where a metal band circumference the molar tooth and a metal wire keep the space of the missing tooth.


Maintainence of Space Maintainer

There isn’t any additional thing with regards to maintainence, just make sure that the oral hygiene is good (brush and clean the mouth well) to avoid plaque forming around it.

A regular dental check up and follow up is important to make sure that the space maintainer is not in a way when the permanent tooth is coming out.


Must a Space Maintainer be Issued Whenever a Baby Tooth is Lose?

No. it depends on the location and timing of the permanent tooth eruption.

A dental radiograph may be required to help making the decision.


With that, I hope you get some insight about space maintainer.


Gwen Gan


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