Has your young Hendricks County son or daughter lost a baby tooth early or had a baby tooth extracted due to tooth decay? If either of these are the case, your child may need to use a space maintainer.

What Is a Space Maintainer?

A space maintainer is a dental appliance used to maintain a space that’s been created by a missing tooth in your child’s mouth. A space maintainer preserves the open space, enabling your child’s permanent tooth to come in in the correct place.
A space maintainer can be made of acrylic or stainless steel. It is custom-made by a dentist, like Dr. Jon Erickson at Danville Family Dentistry in Hendricks County, for a child’s particular open space.
There are two types of space maintainers for children:

  1. Removable – These are similar to orthodontic retainers. They’re usually made of acrylic. They may use an artificial tooth.
  1. Fixed – There are four different types of fixed spaced maintainers.

Distal shoe space maintainer. This dental device is used when a permanent molar is slow in emerging. This type is made of metal, and is inserted into the gum line to keep the open space from closing. Dr. Erickson will have to monitor the progress of your child’s erupting permanent molar to make sure it comes in properly.

Unilateral space maintainer. This space maintainer is used on one side of the mouth. It is wrapped around a neighboring tooth and a metal loop holds the space open.

Crown and loop space maintainer. This type is similar to the unilateral space maintainer, but it actually has a crown connected to the loop that covers a neighboring tooth. The loop saves the space for the permanent tooth to come in.

Lingual space maintainer. This device is cemented to the lower molars on both sides of your child’s mouth and is connected by a wire that runs along the inside of your child’s lower front teeth. This space maintainer is used when multiple teeth are missing.

Why Is a Space Maintainer Needed?

Baby teeth, also known as primary or deciduous teeth, help your child chew and speak. But they also act as a space saver for your child’s future permanent teeth. If your son or daughter were born without a baby tooth, or your child were to lose a baby tooth due to an accident, disease or tooth decay, the muscles and bones in your child’s jaw may not develop correctly to allow your child’s permanent tooth to erupt properly. Additionally, a missing baby tooth may allow your child’s permanent tooth to drift or emerge in the wrong place in your child’s mouth. Or, baby tooth loss can cause your child’s neighboring teeth to move, so there’s not enough space for your child’s permanent tooth come in properly.
If any of these instances were to occur, Dr. Erickson may recommend that your child use a space maintainer to keep the space open for your child’s future permanent tooth. However, not every child who loses a baby tooth may need a space maintainer.
If your child is prematurely missing a baby tooth, contact Danville Family Dentistry’s Hendricks County office to schedule an appointment. Dr. Erickson can determine if your child needs a space maintainer to preserve the space for your child’s permanent tooth. Proactive treatment like a space maintainer may help protect your child’s smile from future orthodontics.