What Is a Space Maintainer?

A space maintainer is usually a metal appliance that is specially fabricated for your child’s mouth. If a baby tooth is lost too soon, the teeth beside it may drift or tilt into the empty space. Teeth in the other jaw may move up or down to also fill the gap. It is used to hold space in the jaw for the future permanent tooth when a primary tooth has been lost prematurely. If this space is not maintained the permanent tooth may not have sufficient room to erupt properly and extensive orthodontics may be necessary.

Why All the Fuss? Baby Teeth Fall Out Eventually On Their Own?

Baby teeth are important to your child’s present and future dental health! They encourage normal development of the jaw bones and muscles. They save space for permanent teeth and guide them into position. Remember some baby teeth are not replaced with adult teeth until a child is 12 or 14 years old!

What Special Care Do Space Maintainers Need?

four rules for space maintainer care:

  • Avoid sticky sweets or chewing gum
  • Do not tug or push on the space maintainer with your fingers or tongue
  • Keep it clean with conscientious brushing
  • Continue regular dental visits

Proper Guide for Space Maintainers:

  • The appliance in your child’s mouth should not be removed by you or your child.
  • The teeth may be sore for several days after the appliance is first placed or adjusted. Children’s Tylenol or Children’s Motrin may be taken to relive the pain.
  • If the gum tissue becomes sore or irritated, or the appliance becomes loosen or broken, call us immediately so that we can make arrangements to see your child.
  • Hard or sticky foods and chewing gum should be avoided.
  • Your child should not “play” with the appliance with his/her fingers or tongue.
  • Careful tooth brushing around the appliance is necessary to reduce the risk for gum irritation and tooth decay.

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