Is a Space Maintainer Needed for My Child?

space maintainer hudsonville dental kids mi pediatric dentist

A space maintainer is an oral appliance used by our Hudsonville, MI, pediatric dentist to quite literally maintain space in a child’s mouth after they experience premature baby tooth loss or extraction. This device might look intimidating, but it should not cause your child any pain whatsoever.

Here are the two types of space maintainers as well as the instances where your child may need one. 

Space Maintainer Categories

As alluded to above, there are two primary types of space maintainers and depending on your child’s needs, they will receive a specific one. Both categories involve fixed appliances, meaning they are not meant to be removed from your child’s mouth unless directed by our pediatric dentist. 

The two types of space maintainers include:

  • Fixed Unilateral Appliances: only maintains space on one side of your child’s mouth. Examples include the band and loop maintainer as well as the distal shoe.
  • Fixed Bilateral Appliances: placed after teeth are lost on both sides of the mouth. Examples include the transpalatal arch (TPA), lingual arch, and Nance arch. 

If your child loses front-facing teeth and you’re concerned about the appearance of their smile, our dentist can discuss a removable partial denture with you. This is a third option, in addition to the two above, that incorporates false teeth on top of an appliance. Keep in mind that with the removable denture it is more for aesthetics than to prevent any loss of space.

A Space Maintainer May Be Needed If There’s:

1. Premature Tooth Loss

Accidents happen and oftentimes, there is nothing you could have done to prevent your child from losing a tooth early. For example, children commonly bump into things and lose their front teeth as they develop their motor skills.

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Regardless of how they prematurely lost a baby tooth, it is important that a space maintainer be used as a placeholder for eventual adult teeth. If a gap is left unattended, nearby teeth will loosen and tilt toward the empty space. This is undesirable as it could cause oral-related issues down the road that will require corrective orthodontic treatment


2. Tooth Extraction Due to Decay

If your child has developed an early childhood cavity and has one or more baby teeth that are badly decayed, we may need to perform a tooth extraction. This removal will improve your child’s oral health but will also create an open space in their mouth. 

Learn MoreSigns My Child May Have a Cavity

To prevent adjacent teeth from closing in on this gap and overcrowding, we will recommend a space maintainer. Placement will ensure oral complications do not result because of an extracted baby tooth and space will be held until adult teeth erupt. 

Proper Space Maintainer Care

When your child is wearing their space maintainer, it is important that they avoid eating sticky, chewy, or hard foods like gum, taffy, and nuts. These types of foods can damage the appliance and result in either a broken space maintainer or one that needs to be significantly adjusted. 

Proper oral hygiene should also continue to be practiced with a space maintainer. Encourage your child to brush their teeth at least twice a day and floss daily to remove unwanted plaque and food particles. Teeth cleanings inside our Hudsonville, MI, pediatric dental office every 6 months are also important.

Give Us a Call Today

Has your child recently lost one of their baby teeth ahead of schedule? Out of precaution, it is best if you bring them in to see our pediatric dentist in Hudsonville, MI, so we can assess the situation and sit down with you to further discuss if a space maintainer would be appropriate for your child. Contact us online to schedule an appointment or call Hudsonville Dental Kids today at (616) 209-4039.

This blog post has been updated.