A space maintainer is a custom-made dental appliance, either removable or cemented into a child's mouth to keep the necessary space open to allow for a permanent tooth to erupt and come into place.
Baby teeth are important to the development of the teeth, jaw bones and muscles and help to guide permanent teeth into position when the baby teeth are lost. If a space is not maintained, then teeth can shift into the open space and orthodontic treatment may be required. Not every child who loses a baby tooth early or to dental decay requires a space maintainer; however, a professional consultation with your dentist or orthodontist should be conducted to determine if using a space maintainer is needed.
Types of Space Maintainers
There are two types of space maintainers for children, removable and fixed.
- Removable – removable space maintainers are similar to orthodontic appliances and are usually made of acrylic. In some cases, an artificial tooth may be used to fill a space that must remain open for the unerupted tooth.
- Fixed – there are four different kinds of fixed space maintainers: unilateral, crown and loop, distal shoe and lingual.