A Space Maintainer consists of small wires made of stainless steel and bands that have been joined together. They are fixed to a tooth that is adjacent to gaps where permanent teeth should be erupting. A plastic plate will be used in cases where more than just one or two teeth are being treated.
When will a Space Maintainer be needed?
When milk teeth are lost, particularly towards the back of the mouth, the adult teeth to replace them growing in the jaw should are already close to the surface. This means they follow the missing milk teeth without any issues.
In some cases, however, the milk teeth can be lost earlier than normal due to tooth decay. If the gap left by the loss of these teeth is not left open, there is a risk that the teeth behind the gap will start to drift forward and the space will be lost. In this instance, tooth crowding can often occur and the permanent teeth developing in the gum will have insufficient room to grow in the correct form of alignment.
Will the retainer be provided by my dentist?
The appliance needs to be professionally constructed and fitted and can only be supplied by a qualified dentist.
If a space maintainer is fixed to one of your teeth it will need to be worn at all times, until the permanent tooth has erupted through the gum. If a removable plastic appliance is being used it will need to be worn nearly all the time. It should only be removed for a short time, usually when it is being cleaned and when participating in sporting activities. The amount of time the device needs to be worn will depend on how long it takes for the permanent tooth to erupt.
How does it need to be cleaned?
Both removable and fixed appliances need to be thoroughly cleaned and you should use the same brush as you do for cleaning your teeth. Fixed space maintainers require a good level of thoroughness to ensure small spaces where food and other debris often become trapped are properly cleaned.