Space Maintainer to Avoid the need for orthodontic therapy?

What is a Space Maintainer?

A space maintainer is a device that may be used if your child loses one of their baby or primary teeth too early. This could be due to some sort of trauma, or it might be due to decay that requires the tooth to be extracted. Sometimes children are born without some of their primary teeth, or they may have certain other conditions that lead to teeth being lost too soon.

A space maintainer is designed to keep the correct amount of space open in the child’s mouth, enabling their adult teeth to erupt normally.

It can be made from plastic or stainless steel, and most are designed to be removable, provided the child is old enough to look after this appliance. Removable space maintainers look like retainers that are commonly worn after orthodontic therapy. They can have false teeth or plastic blocks that hold open the spaces in the mouth, and can be designed specifically for certain areas of the mouth, so a space maintainer to hold open space right at the back of the mouth may look quite different to one designed to maintain space for the front teeth.

Otherwise a space maintainer will be cemented permanently into position, using the teeth either side of the gap as anchors. Fixed space maintainers usually use a band and loop, where the band is attached to the adjacent tooth, and is attached to a band or false tooth that extends into the gap created by the missing tooth, touching the tooth on the other side. This prevents these teeth from moving into this space, so the permanent tooth can erupt without being overcrowded.

Advantages of Wearing a Space Maintainer

Wearing a space maintainer could help to avoid the need for orthodontic therapy in the future. This is because these devices are custom-made to help your child’s permanent teeth erupt correctly. If the spaces left by their baby teeth are not held open, then there is a risk that the remaining teeth will drift out of position, crowding the permanent teeth when they try to erupt.

Overcrowded teeth can create significant oral health problems, as they will be more difficult for your child to clean, and they may bite together incorrectly.

These problems may mean your child will require a dental brace, or more significant orthodontic treatment. In comparison wearing a space maintainer will help to minimize or even eliminate this need. Even if your child does need orthodontic therapy after wearing a space maintainer, it is likely to be quicker and cheaper to complete.

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