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Leaving Space for New Teeth

You may have heard mention of a space maintainer used in pediatric dentistry, but what is it and what does it do?

Reserved parking sign with tooth

A space maintainer reserves space for a permanent tooth to grow in.

Sometimes, a child’s tooth is so badly decayed that there is really no way to save it. When this occurs and the tooth needs to be pulled, we will insert a space maintainer to reserve the space for the permanent tooth.

What Does a Space Maintainer Do?

Basically a space maintainer does exactly what its name implies. It holds the space vacated by a pulled tooth for the permanent tooth, so it will erupt in the proper position.

When a child loses a tooth prematurely due to severe decay or an accident or injury, we will insert a space maintainer to keep the other teeth from shifting because of the open space and to avoid a crowding issue that could occur if sufficient room is not available for the permanent tooth to erupt.

How is a Space Maintainer Inserted?

If a space is left in your child’s mouth due to premature loss of a baby (primary) tooth, we will take a mold of your child’s mouth so that a custom-fitted space maintainer can be made.

At the next visit, a metal band is placed around the tooth behind the one that is missing. Next, a brace that extends over the gum in the space left by the missing tooth is placed. This brace rests against the tooth in front of space left by the missing tooth. This end is cemented to that tooth to keep it in place and to hold the space left by the missing tooth so that it can erupt in the proper position.

Benefits of a Space Maintainer

A space maintainer preserves the space left by the missing tooth so that the permanent tooth erupts in the proper place in your child’s mouth. Use of a space maintainer may help prevent the need for braces as the remaining teeth will be unable to shift position.

A space maintainer also allows your child to continue to eat comfortably.

Has Your Child Lost a Tooth Prematurely?

If your child has prematurely lost a baby tooth, and you haven’t done anything about it, please call our office to schedule an appointment to have your child evaluated for a space maintainer.

Obviously we want what’s best for you and your child. Taking care of small problems today helps to eliminate larger problems tomorrow!