A space maintainer is an appliance that is cemented on a baby (primary) tooth to “hold space” for the unerupted permanent teeth. Most commonly, space maintainers are placed due to premature primary tooth loss and when the adult tooth is not ready to erupt. If space is not held, the adult tooth may erupt into an area where it is NOT supposed to be. The adjacent teeth may also tip or lean into the free space causing the teeth to become crooked. Therefore, only limited space is available for the unerupted tooth which can lead to severe crowding.
Reasons for premature tooth loss and the need for a space maintainer:
- Infection or abscess of a baby tooth that requires an extraction
- Tooth loss from injury or trauma
- Genetically missing primary and/or permanent teeth
Almost all space maintainers are cemented into the mouth and are easy to keep clean and brush around. When the time is right, Dr. Shetty will remove the portion holding the space to allow the permanent tooth to erupt.
If your child loses a baby tooth unexpectedly, make an appointment with Dr. Shetty right away so the appropriate treatment can be recommended to prevent space loss.