Space Maintainers

What Is a Space Maintainer?

A space maintainer is an oral device made out of stainless steel designed to perform the same function as the lost baby tooth: maintaining the space to prevent shifting teeth and to guide the permanent tooth into the correct spot. 

The space maintainer connects to the adjacent teeth and holds the gap open until the permanent tooth is ready to erupt at which point it will be removed. There are different kinds of space maintainers depending on the location and type of tooth that has been lost. They can be removable or fixed.

If your child has lost a baby tooth too soon, contact us at Tooth Town Pediatric Dentistry. Schedule a consultation for a space maintainer with Dr. Tom or Dr. Lulu today.

What Will Happen If My Child Does Not Get A Space Maintainer?

Many parents mistakenly believe that a prematurely lost baby tooth is no big deal since it’s supposed to fall out eventually anyway. However, losing a baby tooth too soon can have detrimental orthodontic consequences. Your child’s baby teeth perform various jobs, such as:

  • The functionality of the tooth to speak and chew
  • Maintaining space for the permanent tooth to erupt
  • Preventing the surrounding teeth from moving

When a tooth is lost before it is due to naturally fall out, the permanent tooth will not erupt in its place for a long time. While there is a gap in your teeth, the surrounding teeth will shift, resulting in crooked or overcrowded teeth, teeth that lean into the space where your previous tooth was, and the inability for the permanent tooth to erupt properly. 

If your child doesn’t get a space maintainer, the teeth on either side of the gap will lean into the space and prevent the permanent tooth from erupting properly.

Types of Space Maintainers for Children

Crown and Loop – The adjacent abutment tooth receives a dental crown which is attached to a wire loop that is made of stainless steel. This loop holds the gap open and presses against the tooth on the other side of the space to ensure it doesn’t lean in or move.

Band and Loop – Instead of using a dental crown over the abutment tooth, a stainless steel band is placed around the abutment tooth and connected to the wire loop that holds the space open. This is ideal for one missing tooth.

Lower Lingual Arch – This is a space maintainer for multiple bilateral missing teeth. It is a wire made of stainless steel that is placed on the palatal arch and connected to the permanent rear molars. 

Distal Shoe – This space maintainer is used when the second baby molars have been lost too soon and it prevents the movement of the first permanent molars.

Nance – This space maintainer places bands on the first permanent molars and is a maxillary lingual arch that doesn’t come into contact with the front teeth. The wire bar extends beyond the anterior teeth and rests on the roof of the mouth.

Removable – All of the previously mentioned space maintainers are fixed in place with dental cement. There are not as commonly used because of the risk of swallowing or breaking the device and the likelihood of the child removing them.