This is where a baby tooth is lost early, well before the underlying adult tooth erupts. Some causes of this are:
Tooth decay in baby tooth, where its removal with the dentist is the only option.
Severe crowding causing early loss of the baby tooth. This severe crowding is often not obvious to parents until a dental x-ray called an OPG is taken.
This condition is usually seen in children and early to mid teenagers. Late teens and adults generally have all the adult teeth already present.
Why does the early removal of a baby tooth need orthodontic treatment?
In a child, early and mid teen, space can be lost very quickly once a baby tooth is lost. This happens as the adjacent teeth start leaning into this gap, preventing the underlying adult teeth from erupting. The adult tooth becomes impacted, which causes food packing in this area when eating. Delays in managing this may mean a future difficult extraction and/or prolonged orthodontic treatment to correct.
In a late teen and adult, loss of an adult tooth can cause natural changes in one’s bite. These changes are often not beneficial and can make future tooth replacement or orthodontic treatment more difficult. It is advisable to seek an orthodontist opinion if you are considering to have your teeth straightened in future and require a tooth to be removed.
What are the treatment options?
A fixed space maintainer is a simple and comfortable fixed appliance that can be used to prevent natural space loss while the underlying adult tooth/ teeth erupt. Even if some space has been lost, this appliance would prevent further space loss occurring.
Where there is mild space lost that has already occurred, a fixed lip bumper appliance can regain this space.
If the space loss is severe already, a decision may be made to delay any orthodontic treatment till most of the adult teeth have erupted. Removal of one or several teeth may be required. This would be discussed at your initial orthodontic consultation.