If you have a young child, then it is imperative that you keep track of the way the baby teeth are forced out of the jaw. The process of losing a baby tooth is called eruption, and this creates space so the adult or permanent teeth can cut through the gums. Baby teeth help your child chew and grind food at a young age, and they also help to save space along the jaw so the adult teeth have more than enough room to emerge. If your child loses a baby tooth out of order or several years before they should, then your child's dentist may need to provide treatment to prevent future dental issues. Keep reading to understand what the dentist may choose to do.
If your child ends up knocking a tooth out of the jaw or if dental decay causes the premature loss of a tooth, then a pediatric dentist will look at a few different things when deciding on treatment. The dentist will first look at whether or not the tooth is surrounded by baby or adult teeth. For example, if your child loses one of the top cuspids, then the dentist will look to see if the tooth is surrounded by a permanent incisor and bicuspid. If your child is 10 or 11, then both of these permanent teeth may already be seen in the mouth. However, if your child is 8 or 9, then one or neither of the teeth may be noticed.
If the surrounding teeth that flank the sides of the prematurely erupted tooth are baby teeth, then your child's dentist may choose to complete a serial extraction. First, the dentist will complete an x-ray to see where the adult teeth are located in the jaw. This will give the professional an idea of whether or not there is enough room in the area for all of the adult teeth to emerge. If the pediatric dentist feels that one of the nearby teeth is likely to erupt into the open space left by the missing tooth, then one or both of the nearby baby teeth will be removed.
For example, the dentist may feel that the erupting incisor will shift into the open space left by the canine instead of forcing the baby incisor up and out of the mouth. To prevent this, the baby incisor will be removed to make it easier for the adult incisor to move straight up into the correct space. In many cases, only one of two baby teeth will be removed so your child can still chew food fairly easily.
If the adult teeth have already formed in the mouth on the right and left side of the missing tooth, then your child's dentist may be concerned that the two adult teeth may migrate into the space and close it off before the non-erupted adult tooth has the opportunity to move into the opening. The erupting tooth will then need to shift either in front or in back of the nearby adult teeth. To prevent this from happening, the dentist may try to keep the space open and clear for when the tooth erupts.
A removable space maintainer may be used. This device is similar to a bridge with an artificial tooth in between two attachments. In the case of the space maintainer device, two clips will be attached to either side of the artificial tooth. The clips snap onto the adjacent adult teeth to keep the device in place. Permanent devices may also be used. The most common space saver device will be formed out of two metal bands with a piece of wire in between. The bands sit on the permanent teeth and the wire sits close to the gums between the bands. The permanent device will be loosened and removed once the adult tooth starts to make its way through the gums.
For more information about treatment options if your child has lost a tooth early, contact a local dental clinic like Cobbe Dental & Orthodontics.