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 extensive cavities or injury, a space maintainer is usually necessary. Space maintainers can be either permanent or removable. 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. Dr.Covington takes a mold of the child’s mouth 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 your Dr. Covington dentist at every check-up appointment and should be removed when the adult teeth are visible and have poked through the gum.
Space maintainers are necessary when baby teeth are lost prematurely, usually up until a year or so before the adult tooth comes in. The decision of when to place a space maintainer is up to Dr. Covington, but their use can sometimes reduce or eliminate the need for braces in the future.