Space maintainers are appliances used in the mouth to preserve and maintain space. They are necessary when one or more primary molars have been prematurely lost due to trauma or disease. Using a space maintainer allows the permanent teeth to erupt, or grow, into the correct alignment with proper tooth-to-tooth contact. It isn’t usually necessary to use a space maintainer when front teeth are lost prematurely, although removable partial dentures may be prescribed as space maintainers if several front teeth are missing and a child’s appearance is affected.
There are many types of space maintainers that may be used, depending on the location of the tooth and the needs of the patient.
Different Types of Space Maintainers :
Fixed Space Maintainers
In general, a fixed space maintainer is a semi-permanent tooth fixture that keeps enough space open for the adult tooth to grow in. After the permanent tooth has grown in, the maintainer can be removed.
There are four types of fixed space maintainers that a pediatric dentist can use to care for the child’s teeth. These different types are crown and loop, distal shoe, lingual, and unilateral.
Crown and Loop
These devices include a crown placed over one tooth and a stainless steel wire loop. The loop presses against the tooth on the other side of the gap and keeps the gap open. Once the new tooth grows in properly, the crown can be removed.
This type of maintainer is only used for permanent first molars that have not grown in yet. These maintainers are usually inserted into the gum line after a baby molar falls out prematurely. The device then guides the unerupted adult molar as it grows in.
These maintainers use wire and crowns to maintain spacing across several tooth gaps. These devices are usually used if a child is missing teeth due to a congenital defect.
This treatment uses a wire to maintain space between two teeth, similar to a crown and loop treatment. However, unilateral maintainers use a wire that is wrapped around the teeth on either side of the gap.
Removable Space Maintainers
A removable space maintainer can be a good option if the child’s tooth is almost ready to grow in. These devices are similar to ones used in orthodontic treatments and can be customized for your child’s needs.
Usually, these devices are made of acrylic material and can be fitted with a fake tooth. These maintainers also make it easier for the child to keep good oral hygiene habits, such as brushing and flossing.
However, removable devices are usually not as effective at maintaining space as fixed devices.