2421 Ford St, Golden, CO 80401

Why does a child need a space maintainer?


A child may need a space maintainer due to the early loss of a tooth or teeth. 

  • Trauma has caused the early loss of a tooth
  • Severe decay that has made the tooth nonrestorable
  • an abscess has formed and the tooth must be extracted
  • severe crowding is present and an orthodontist recommends an extraction(s)

Regardless of how a primary tooth has gone missing, it is important for the pediatric dentist or orthodontist to evaluate for a space maintainer. Teeth that are left without one will start to drift and possibly block out the permanent tooth below the gum. 


There are both removable and fixed space maintainers. Our doctors prefer the fixed ones, so that they know they are placed securely for as long as needed. The location of the missing tooth and how many teeth are missing are the deciding factor in what type of space maintainer is needed. The patient is fitted and the appliance is sent to a lab to be made  custom. 

Space maintainers are cemented into proper position and children adjust quickly within a few days. Extra oral hygiene care is needed around the bands and your dental provider will go over these instructions. Space maintainers are checked at regular 6 month dental cleanings or at regular evaluations from your orthodontist. The doctors will let you know when the proper time to remove the space maintainer will be. 

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Chewing gum and oral health

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The first commercial chewing gum was made and sold in 1848, but chewing gums have been around since ancient times. The ancient Greeks chewed a gummy substance called Mastiche derived from the resin of the "Mastic" tree and North American Indians chewed the sap from Spruce trees. Today the base for most gums are a blend of synthetic materials (elastomers, resins and waxes). 

There is good news for those of us who like to chew gum. The ADA Seal recognizes that chewing gum has scientifically demonstrated that it can help protect teeth. Clinical studies have shown that chewing gum for 20 minutes following a meal can help prevent tooth decay. This is because the act of chewing gum increases salivary flow. This increased flow of saliva helps neutralize and wash away the acids that are produced when food is broken down by bacteria in plaque on your teeth. Over time, acid can break down tooth enamel, creating conditions for decay. Increased saliva also carries with it more calcium and phosphate to help strengthen enamel.

What type of gum is best? Sugarless to start of course! Look for the ADA seal, a company earns this seal by demonstrating that its product meets the requirements for safety and efficacy for sugar free chewing gum. 

click on this link for a list of ADA approved chewing gum


Letting go of the pacifier

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My oldest child was a hard core pacifier user. I remember the struggle to get him to stop using it twenty years later. Below are some great tips to help your child slowly kick the paci habit.

  • Wean your child off. Give only at naps and bedtime, then at bedtime only. Eventually stop.
  • Once you start to wean your child, offer other comforts instead. A new soft stuffed animal or blanket, rocking your child in a rocking chair before bedtimes, and maybe a little massage. Remember there will be some fussing at first.
  • Make sure everyone in the family and caretakers are all sticking to the same rules for pacifier use. Like anything, consistency is important for success.
  • Try a little lemon juice or vinegar on the tip to make the pacifier unappealing.
  • Telling toddlers that they are big kids always seems to help motivate. Maybe tell your child another little baby needs the pacifier now and have your "big kid" gift his or her pacifier.
  • surround your child with non paci user playmates.
  • Take your child to the toy store for a trade in your paci deal.

Sometimes cold turkey is just best and try not to pick a time to stop that be especially stressful for your child.

Long term use can effect the shape of the mouth and alignment of teeth. Symptoms of pacifier teeth include the front teeth not meeting the front bottom teeth when mouth is closed. Changes in the shape of the roof of the mouth and jaw alignment can occur due to constant suction. Some specialists say long term use of pacifiers can effect speech development as well.

Our pediatric dentists can answer any questions you may have on this topic at your child's "Happy" visit here in our office.