A space maintainer is an orthodontic customized metal or acrylic piece that holds a space for permanent teeth when children lose their baby teeth earlier than expected. The space maintainer marks the direction of the permanent teeth into their proper position, preventing any shifting into a space reserved for other teeth.
There are two types of Space Maintainers:
Fixed space maintainers: Fixed space maintainers are removable space maintainer made of acrylic material that are held to a tooth or many other teeth by cementing it in place. There are three categories frequently used by dentists.
Lingual: This is used when the child has more than one missing tooth. It is paved to the molar teeth and connected by a wire wrapped around the inside of the lower front teeth.
Distal Shoe: This is used to reserve a space for the first molar tooth of the child. The metal part is inserted in the gum to prevent the space to close. The dentist will monitor the progress of the erupting tooth to make sure it shifts correctly into its proper place.
Unilateral: Also known as crown or loop, this is attached to one side of the mouth and placed to hold a space for one tooth. The space maintainer is wrapped around the outside of a tooth then connected to a metal loop to keep the space.
Removable space maintainers: Removable space maintainers work the same as fixed space maintainers because they both are removable and made of acrylic material.
Overall, the use of space maintainer varies from child to child, this is because some children’s permanent teeth come out faster than others. Unlike braces, space maintainers are not durable, and a proper care is recommended.