Space Maintainers

Did You Know… Losing a baby tooth too soon due to trauma or decay can cause problems?

Yes, while it’s perfectly understandable to think, “Oh it’s fine, the tooth was going to come out eventually anyways”, losing a baby tooth too prematurely may lead to problems as the permanent teeth start to come in. With this in mind, Dr. Cox or one of the other experienced pediatric dentists at Pediatric Dental Specialists of Western Colorado in Montrose may recommend a space maintainer.

What is a Space Maintainer for Kids?

Pediatric Conscious Sedation

Space maintainers are oral appliances designed to “maintain” the space where a baby tooth once was until the permanent tooth can come in. Typically, they are made of metal or acrylic which is more natural looking. Space maintainers may  be fixed into the mouth or removable.

Fixed space maintainers are cemented and secured to surrounding teeth, while removable space maintainers may have metal hooks or the like to snap into place as needed. The main purpose of space maintainers in kids is to prevent the surrounding teeth from gradually sliding into the space left by a prematurely lost baby tooth. As soon as the permanent tooth begins to erupt, the space maintainer is removed since it is no longer needed.

What is a Space Maintainer for Kids?

Space maintainers are important to your child’s development and they prevent a number of complications from occurring. Permanent teeth can be directly affected when primary teeth are lost too soon and the space is not maintained.

Complications from losing baby teeth prematurely include: 

  • Crooked teeth
  • Irregular spaces between teeth
  • Crowded permanent teeth
  • Impacted teeth
  • Teeth not erupting properly
  • Overlapping teeth
  • Speech problems
  • Uneven bite (malocclusion)
  • Need for braces or other orthodontic treatment in the future

Space maintainers can make a big difference in reducing the risk of these complications and they only need to be worn for a relatively short period of time – just until the permanent teeth come.

Caring for space maintainers is important as well. Space maintainers should be brushed twice a day like other teeth but removable space maintainers will need to be taken out and washed with mild dish soap and rinsed with lukewarm water daily. The gums underneath removable maintainers will need to be brushed and cleaned as well.

Lastly, certain foods should also be avoided if your child has a space maintainer. These include foods that are:

  • Hard
  • Crunchy
  • Sticky
  • Chewy
  • Sugary