Baby teeth usually stay in place until “pushed out” by a permanent tooth that takes it’s place. Unfortunately, some children lose baby teeth too early. This can cause problems so it becomes necessary to use a space maintainer. A space maintainer is a device that saves room in the mouth for the adult teeth when the baby teeth come out too early. Ideally, baby teeth should be preserved until the adult teeth push them out naturally. Baby teeth are important for a child to eat comfortably and also to save space for the adult teeth. When they must be removed due to cavities or injury, a space maintainer becomes necessary.
Space maintainers can be either permanent or removable. Space maintainers are an appliance made of plastic or metal custom fit to your child’s mouth to maintain the space intended for the permanent tooth when it decides to come in. They do this by “holding open” the empty space left by a lost tooth by preventing movement in the remaining teeth until the permanent tooth takes it’s natural position in the child’s mouth. This treatment is much more affordable and much easier on your child than to move them back later with orthodontic procedures. Although there are many types of space maintainers, one commonly used is called the band and loop.
The procedure to make a band and loop space maintainer is relatively simple. A mold of the child’s mouth is taken and then the laboratory makes the space maintainer, which consists of two parts. There is a band that fits around the tooth behind the missing one, and a loop or brace that goes over the gum where the missing tooth was and then rests against a tooth in front of it. When the band is cemented on the tooth, it prevents the teeth from moving into the space where the missing tooth was, and allows the adult tooth enough space to grow into the proper position. The space maintainer should then be evaluated by our doctor, they can do this at every check-up appointment and she will remove them when the adult teeth are visible and have poked through the gum.