Space Maintainer

It is a type of retainer used to preserve a gap in the mouth while awaiting the eruption of a new tooth or teeth. A space maintainer usually takes the form of a tiny stainless steel wire and band connected together, which is then fastened to a tooth bordering the gap. While this type of space maintainer is appropriate for one or more teeth, for larger numbers a dental plate may be recommended.

Do I need a Space Maintainer?

A space maintainer is required if you have certain problems arising after one or more prematurely lost milk teeth. Ordinarily, particularly when these teeth are in the rear of the mouth, the adult teeth that follow them are already near the surface of the gum and easily emerge into the space left by the milk tooth or teeth. However, in cases of severe decay one or more baby teeth can be lost ahead of time. The space remaining is then at risk of being filled by other teeth, preventing the permanent teeth from taking their intended position. In such cases, a space maintainer can be used to keep the gap open, until these adult teeth are ready to come through.

Where can I get one?

They can only be provided by a qualified dentist who will ensure that it is accurately manufactured and fitted.

When should I wear my Space Maintainer?

This is dependent on the type of space maintainer you have been supplied with. Some are cemented directly onto a tooth, in which case they need to be worn twenty-four hours each day. Removable plastic retainers are to be worn almost constantly, but can be removed for short periods like when playing sports. This type of appliance should also usually be removed twice a day to be cleaned.

How long do I need to wear it for?

The duration varies as you need to wear the space maintainer until the tooth or teeth have erupted through the gum.

Dental maintenance

Whether your space maintainer is removable or fixed, it is important to clean it thoroughly. If your appliance is fixed then make sure to clean it carefully as there may be food trapped in its small spaces. The plastic space maintainers can be removed for cleaning, but if you aren't planning on wearing it immediately afterwards then it is important that you do not wrap yours in tissues. It is easy to accidentally throw away the tissue or paper, with the valuable appliance inside, and then a brand new replacement will have to be made.

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