Most youngsters lose their milk teeth naturally at around age six or seven. But occasionally, accidents, injuries or congenital conditions can cause the tooth fairy to visit unexpectedly much earlier.
When this happens, the discrete midnight depositing of a few pennies under the pillow isn’t the only thing parents have to worry about. The space left behind by the errant tooth could cause problems for the development of adult teeth if other milk teeth begin to crowd into the gap before the permanent tooth is ready to make an appearance.
In this case, the permanent tooth could end up in a crooked or crowded position if it tries to squeeze into a too-small gap. The problem gets even worse when dealing with the loss of more than one tooth.
Teeth which are crowded or crooked in this way can be difficult to keep clean. If especially crowded, they can take years of expensive orthodontic treatment to correct.
Here in Hatch End, we solve the problem using space maintainers, which temporarily take the place of missing teeth – keeping their neighbours in line until their adult replacements are ready.
Space maintainers can be used on either a removable or fixed basis.
Removable retainers can easily be taken out for cleaning by the child. They are made from stainless steel by taking a precision impression of the space in which they are to fit. Removable retainers are particularly useful for older children who can follow directions for cleaning, or when more than one tooth is missing.
Where the missing teeth are in a prominent or visible position, retainers can be made to look just like real teeth for better discretion.
A couple of advanced options for maintaining space are also available. If a child loses teeth from both sides of the lower jaw, the spacer can be placed using a specially designed lingual holding arch.
When the molar is not yet developed, a fixed retainer is sometimes the preferred treatment. In this case, a distal shoe appliance is inserted under the gum to prevent the space from closing.
All types of space maintainers allow for cleaning and brushing to continue as usual. However, chewy candies and gums should be avoided and the maintainers must be checked by a dentist regularly. When permanent teeth are ready to come through, it’s time to remove the maintainer.