Space Maintainers

Comprehensive Orthodontic Treatment in Palm Harbor, FL

At AJ Orthodontics, our mission is to help our patients achieve healthy, beautiful smiles that last a lifetime. As a leading orthodontist serving the Palm Harbor, FL area, we're proud to offer a wide variety of orthodontic treatment options, and our orthodontist, Dr. Alex J. Johnson, works closely with patients to develop customized treatment plans that fit into any lifestyle. We treat patients of all ages at our office, and sometimes, we have to start orthodontic treatment early to achieve the best smile – and if your child prematurely loses a baby tooth, a space maintainer can help. 

What's a Space Maintainer? 

Put simply, a space maintainer is an orthodontic appliance that's designed to keep teeth in the same relative position, maintaining the space between them. Most kids don't need space maintainers and won't start any form of orthodontic treatment until adolescence, but if a baby tooth falls out prematurely, we may need to intervene. 

Despite their name, baby teeth have some very serious responsibilities. Primary teeth not only help kids learn to speak and chew properly, but they also have an important orthodontic function. The primary teeth act as 'guides' for the permanent teeth, holding space for the adult teeth and helping to ensure they grow in with proper alignment. 

However, if a child loses a baby tooth prematurely due to damage or decay, it can throw off this alignment. The adjacent teeth may start to drift into the space left behind by the missing tooth, disrupting the alignment of the teeth and interfering with the proper eruption of the adult teeth. Without treatment, this can cause significant orthodontic problems and require extensive treatment. The same problem can happen for children who have a tooth that's congenitally missing, which means it never formed. 

Space maintainers are used to keep the teeth in the same relative position after the loss of a baby tooth, preventing these problems. Space maintainers are simple orthodontic appliances made from metal or plastic, can be fitted in one appointment, and protect the alignment of the teeth without causing pain or discomfort. 

Types of Space Maintainers

Depending on your child's specific needs, we may fit them with either a removable space maintainer or a fixed space maintainer. Fixed space maintainers are made from a metal loop attached to a stainless steel crown that's placed over an adjacent tooth, while removable maintainers consist of a metal band that goes around one tooth and a loop that extends out from the band. In either case, the loop extends just to the point that it touches the nearby tooth, and if the missing primary tooth was visible in the mouth, we can attach an artificial tooth to the space maintainer to preserve your child's complete smile. We'll often use fixed space maintainers for younger children who may not be able keep from fidgeting with them, while older children can often have the removable design. 

Regardless of which type we use, we'll create your child's maintainer using an impression of their mouth. Your child will wear the space maintainer until x-rays show us that the permanent tooth underneath is ready to erupt naturally. As with all orthodontic treatments, it's vital for your child to maintain strong oral hygiene to protect the health of their teeth. 

Contact Your Palm Harbor, FL Orthodontist

Space maintainers can be an important part of your child's orthodontic treatment, setting the stage for a healthy smile and reducing the amount of time they'll need to spend in braces. Think your child may be in need of a space maintainer? Don't wait: use our easy online form to schedule a consultation. We can't wait to hear from you, and we look forward to helping your child achieve a beautiful, healthy smile!

Related Articles

Baby Teeth - Dear Doctor Magazine

The Importance of Baby Teeth If baby teeth are lost prematurely, other teeth can shift into the empty space so that there is not enough room left for the permanent teeth to come in correctly; crowding or crooked teeth can result. Fortunately, a special oral appliance called a “space maintainer” has been designed to solve this problem... Read Article

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AJ Orthodontics

  • AJ Orthodontics - 3840 Tampa Rd., Palm Harbor, FL 34684 Phone: 727-786-7550 Fax: 727-240-1355

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