Space Maintainers


Just as their name suggests, space maintainers preserve spaces in the mouth for the proper eruption of permanent teeth. They are used to maintain adequate space for the permanent teeth when primary teeth are lost prematurely. Without a space maintainer, permanent teeth may erupt incorrectly into the space left by the missing primary teeth. The incorrect eruption of permanent teeth can result in improper alignment and overcrowding. Since space maintainers preserve adequate space for permanent teeth, they promote the proper eruption of permanent teeth and prevent misalignment and overcrowding. 

Did You Know?

Although your child is born with all 20 of their primary teeth, these teeth will start erupting around 6-8 months of age. Tooth eruption begins with the central incisors and works backwards through the mouth. It takes about the age of 3 until your child will have all of their primary teeth erupted. 

Frequently Asked Questions:

Does my child need a space maintainer?

Your child may need a space maintainer if they have prematurely lost a primary tooth due to early decay, trauma, or extraction. However, not every child with a lost primary tooth requires space maintainers. Determining if your child needs a space maintainer depends upon their age and the tooth that was lost. For example, if your child is six and loses their central incisor, they will likely not need to wear a space maintainer because their permanent tooth is expected to erupt soon. However, if your child is three and they lose a central incisor, a space maintainer may be required to maintain that space for the permanent incisor that will be erupting 3-4 years later. Only your Stone Oak Pediatric Dentist, Dr. Torres can decide for sure if your child needs a space maintainer. 

What are the different types of space maintainers?

There are two different types of space maintainers: removable and fixed. Removable space maintainers are basically partial dentures made with acrylic and artificial teeth that fill in the space left by a missing tooth. As their name suggests, removable space maintainers can be removed from the mouth for cleaning. Removable space maintainers are often used in older children that can properly care for them or in children that have multiple missing teeth. 

Fixed space maintainers, on the other hand, are fixed into the mouth by dental cement and cannot be removed. They can be used on the top or bottom jaw and are well-suited for children who have lost a tooth towards the back of their mouth.There are four different kinds of fixed space maintainers, including:  

Band-and-Loop Devices are used when one or more of the primary molars is lost in the same dental arch (upper or lower). It is made by stainless steel wire and held in place by orthodontic bands. Band-and-Loop devices can easily allow the permanent tooth to properly erupt. 

band and loop space maintainer

Lingual Holding Arches are used to keep space around both sides of the lower back teeth. 

A Transpalatal arch sits on the upper jaw in order to preserve spaces around the upper dental arch. This type of space maintainer is held together by wire around the adjacent teeth. 

Distal Shoe Appliances sit over the baby’s first molar and will remain there preserving the space after the primary molar is lost. 

Choosing the best space maintainer for your child will depend upon a number of issues, but Dr. Torres is more than happy to answer any questions you may have regarding space maintainers and your child.

What should I expect when my child is receiving space maintainer treatment at Kids World Pediatrics?

When your child is receiving space maintainer treatment, you can expect to have somewhat regular dental visits to evaluate their oral hygiene, jaw growth, and permanent teeth progression. When treatment first begins, it may take your child a while to get used to their new space maintainer. Additionally, little adjustments may need to be made to help your child be more comfortable. 

How do I care for my child's space maintainer?

Caring for your child’s space maintainer is not as complicated as you would think. To help your child care for their space maintainer, make sure they brush twice a day using a fluoride-based toothpaste and floss once a day. Additionally, you will need to temporarily prevent them from consuming chewing gum, biting into hard candy or fruits, and playing with their appliances. 

boy brushing his teeth and giving a thumbs up