Space “Maintainers”- What, Why, How, When?
Earlier, dentistry used to be synonymous with “extraction” of badly decayed teeth. Especially in children. The idea was that milk teeth are going to be replaced anyway, so why not just remove it. But what if I told you that the thinking has changed now? The permanent teeth especially in the back of the mouth do not erupt till 10-12 years of age and keeping an empty space in those areas till that age is not good.
So, what happens if the milk tooth has to be removed pretty early on?
- The permanent tooth developing underneath is not ready to come out… So, the back teeth may “tilt” into this space
- Once the back teeth tilt, space available for the other teeth reduces
- At age 10, the permanent teeth are crowded/ stuck and arranged wherever there is a little space- Braces will definitely be required to align
What can be done, then?
- Space maintainers are given immediately after extraction of the milk teeth.
- These will be in place till the permanent teeth are ready to erupt and prevent loss of space.
- The probability/ duration of orthodontic treatment reduces at a later age.