What is a space maintainer?

A space maintainer is a dental device used to maintain the space for the permanent to erupt  when a baby tooth is pulled prematurely on a child.  Space maintainers are used to prevent the other teeth from crowding into the extraction site and causing problems when the permanent tooth finally comes in to replace the missing baby tooth.

Most of the time, the space maintainer is constructed with a metal band that is cemented to the 1st permanent molar and has a wire extended across the space where the baby tooth was extracted and resting on the tooth on the other side of the space.  If baby teeth have been lost on both sides of  the mouth, two of these cemented space maintainers may be used, or a retainer-like removeable space maintainer can be made to wear until the permanent teeth erupt.

The biggest problem with the cemented, or fixed space maintainer is that they can be pulled off when the child eats sticky foods or candy.  If they do come off, they can and should be recemented as soon as possible.   The  main problem with removeable space maintainers is that they can be easily lost or broken by the child.

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