Does my child need a space maintainer?

What is a space maintainer?

A space maintainer is a metal appliance that goes into a child’s mouth, holding space for an adult tooth that is yet to erupt.

They are recommended when a child has a baby tooth removed before it falls out naturally.

The purpose of a space maintainer

A space maintainer preserves room for an adult tooth to move into.

Without one, too much space might be lost to the surrounding teeth. As a result, the adult tooth may become stuck when it emerges – or erupt in an irregular position in the mouth.

Types of space maintainers

Band and loop

Used when a child has lost one tooth

space maintainer band and loop

Lower lingual arch

Used when a child has lost more than one tooth in the lower jaw

lower lingual arch space maintainer

Transpalatal arch

Used when a child has lost more than one tooth in the upper jaw

Important considerations
To help determine if a space maintainer is right for your child, we will consider:

Which teeth were removed

For example, the loss of the second primary molars has a much greater impact than losing the first primary molars.

The age of  your child

The younger your child is when the tooth comes out before it’s ready, the greater the potential for problems when the adult one emerges. Your child must also be at an age and level of cooperation where we can place the space maintainer in their mouth while they lay in the dental chair.

Your child’s ability to maintain excellent oral hygiene

Your child must brush carefully and thoroughly to avoid plaque build-up around the space maintainer.

Your child’s diet

To avoid the space maintainer becoming loose, breaking or even falling out, your child needs to avoid sticky and crunchy foods. Repairing a space maintainer requires additional treatment, and with it, additional costs.

Your child’s risk of developing decay in the future

Space maintainers make brushing more difficult. They can also trap plaque next to teeth. This means that if your child has an increased risk of decay (high sugar diet, inconsistent brushing habits or chalky molars), a space maintainer can exacerbate their risk.

Your commitment to attending regular dental appointments

Regular appointments allow us to ensure the space maintainer is fitting well and that brushing is adequate.

Removing a space maintainer

As part of your regular appointments, we’ll identify the optimal time to remove your child’s space maintainer. The key is to ensure it does not interfere with their new adult tooth coming through.

Removing a space maintainer is a quick and easy procedure.