Primary or baby teeth begin to emerge at around 8 months old and begin to fall out around age 6. The development schedule of baby teeth has some flexibility, but it's important that the teeth stick close to the time frame so that permanent teeth can grow in correctly. Losing baby teeth early can create serious development issues with permanent teeth.
Baby teeth essentially serve as placeholders for permanent teeth. If a baby tooth falls out ahead of schedule, the emerging permanent tooth can grow in misaligned. This misalignment can lead to bite problems such as dental crowding or a crossbite. Early loss of baby teeth can be combated in the pediatric dental care office through two treatment options.
A dental space maintainer, or spacer, is a device that can prevent neighboring baby teeth from shifting into the gap left when the tooth fell out early. There are a few different types of spacers that can be separated out into two categories: removable and fixed.
Removable spacers tend to work well for children old enough to follow your dentist's instructions about wear and care without you having to hover over the child's mouth constantly.
If the missing tooth or teeth are near the back of the mouth, the removable spacer might resemble the type of retainer prescribed after orthodontic treatment. If the missing space is in the front of the mouth where some adult teeth are already present, the dentist might recommend a partial denture to fill the gap until the permanent teeth start to erupt.
Several different types of fixed spacers exist. But all share some common characteristics. A wire, band, and/or device are used to create a counterforce that prevents neighboring teeth from moving into the gap left by the premature tooth loss. Fixed spacers are much more obvious than removable spacers, so they are usually used on missing rear teeth.
If your dentist didn't catch the early tooth loss and the permanent teeth have already shifted out of place, orthodontic treatment might be necessary even before the new permanent tooth emerges.
Braces can be used in conjunction with a mini dental implant, which is inserted into the jawbone in the area of the missing tooth. This removable implant prevents the neighboring teeth from shifting further into this gap while your dentist tries to straighten out your child's bite.
If the permanent tooth starts to erupt during orthodontic treatment, the dentist can remove the mini implant so as not to impede eruption. The presence of the permanent tooth will then maintain the space during the rest of the orthodontic treatment.
Contact a professional pediatric dentistry like Wayne Pediatric Dental Care for more information on treating your child for prematurely lost primary teeth.Share