Space maintainers are dental devices used for children when they lose a tooth and wait for the permanent tooth to grow in. There are a number of reasons why your pediatric dentist might recommend this device.

What is the purpose of space maintainer?

Space maintainers are used to hold a gap in your child’s mouth when a tooth falls out. In general, they are not used for normal baby tooth loss but rather, are intended to keep the teeth aligned and properly spaced if the child has a tooth knocked out before it sheds on its own, if a tooth is lost due to cavities or if a permanent tooth is absent. When a baby tooth is lost too soon, it can affect tooth alignment. As such, this device serves as the lost tooth to help permanent tooth grow on their right positions.

Are there different types of space maintainers?

Space maintainers come in several types and your dentist knows the right type for your child. Removable space maintainers are generally made from acrylic, resembling an orthodontic retainer and can be removed when cleaning or eating.

On the other hand, a fixed space maintainer is attached to the teeth or gums. It is usually a better option for little kids who might not be able to care for a removable space maintainer. Some fixed space maintainers use wires and is held in place with a crown. This can be unilateral – only one side of the mouth, or bilateral – on both sides.

Another type is called a distal shoe. It is a fixed maintainer where the metal is place on the gumline to prevent a gap from closing when the first permanent molar erupt. Lingual space maintainer is used for more than one missing tooth. It is bilateral and the wire is placed on both sides of the molar teeth and behind the lower front teeth.

How to properly care space maintainer?

Taking proper care of your little one’s space maintainer will extend the lifespan of the device and makes sure it does its function properly. The device must be cleaned whenever the child flosses and brushes his teeth. For removable maintainers, it can be taken out from your kid’s mouth and cleaned while for fixed maintainers, it can be brushed like how he brushes his teeth. It is important to clean the gums where the space maintainer is attached. This will ensure that the area is healthy and clean, so by the time the permanent tooth emerges, there will be no issues that will affect your kid’s dental health.

Additionally, your pediatric dentist will have to check the device regularly to make sure that it is performing its job and isn’t causing any problems. If your child damages or loses a space maintainer, informs the dentist immediately so a replacement can be made. Failure to use the device properly will result in a misaligned tooth. This can be expensive and painful to fix. While wearing a space maintainer, it is important to have a regular dental cleaning.