What are Space Maintainers?
If a child loses a tooth or needs to have a tooth removed prematurely, a space maintainer may be necessary. The goal of a space maintainer appliance is to preserve space in the mouth, before the permanent tooth comes in. Space maintainers also aid in prevention of a collapse (shrinking) of the dental arches.
There are two different kinds of space maintainers: a one-sided space maintainer or a full arch space maintainer (two-sided). Space maintainers are cemented in place and left until the permanent teeth begin to break through the gums. The appliance usually takes 2-3 weeks for your child to adjust to having it in their mouth. After that time, their tongue begins to ignore it. On occasion, before cementing the space maintainer, spacers are placed between your child's teeth. These spacers make it possible to cement the appliance to the tooth/teeth. They usually put pressure on your child's teeth for about 2 days. This can be uncomfortable, but can easily be controlled with pedoprofen (children's Ibuprofen) or children's Tylenol.
Although a space maintainer will be cemented in your child's mouth, it may still become loose or even fall out. If this occurs please call our office and schedule an appointment as soon as possible so that we may re-cement the space maintainer, providing that there is no damage to it. Time is of essence, the longer the appliance is out, the more likely it is to not fit properly.
It is critical for your child to return for the cementation of the space maintainer. If the cementation is delayed, or a child doesn't show for their appointment in a timely manner, the appliance may not fit, in which case insurance companies will not pay for a new space maintainer to be made. Please bring your child in for their timely visits. During these visits, we evaluate whether or not the appliance is still needed. Remember the space maintainer does need to be removed in a timely manner.