If a tooth has come out too soon because of decay or an accident, it is vital to maintain the space left behind to prevent future space loss and dental problems when permanent teeth begin to come in. Without the use of a space maintainer, the teeth that surround the open space can shift, and impede the permanent tooth’s eruption. When that happens, the need for orthodontic treatment may become unavoidable.
Types of Space Maintainers
Band and Loop
- Made of stainless steel wire
- Held in place by a crown or band on the tooth adjacent to the empty space
- The wire is attached to the crown or loop and rests against the side of the tooth on the other end of the space
- Used on the upper teeth when the back teeth on both sides of the jaw are lost
- A wire is placed on the lingual (tongue) side of the arch and is attached to the tooth in front of the open space on both sides. This prevents the teeth from shifting so space is not lost.
- Used on the lower teeth when the back teeth on both sides of the jaw are lost
- A wire is placed on the lingual (tongue) side of the arch and is attached to the tooth in front of the open space on both sides. This prevents the front teeth from shifting backwards into the gap.
Caring for Your Child’s Space Maintainer
There are four general rules for taking care of a child’s appliance.
- Your child should avoid sticky foods, including candy and chewing gum.
- Encourage your child not to push or tug on the space maintainer with the fingers or tongue.
- Keep your child’s space maintainer clean through effective brushing and flossing.
- Your child should continue to see a pediatric dentist for regular dental visits.