Types of space maintainers
Removable: A removable space maintainer looks like a retainer. It uses artificial teeth or plastic blocks to fill in the space that needs to stay open. This type is often used when the space is obvious to other people and works well in older children who can reliably maintain care for the appliance
Fixed: Fixed space maintainers are cemented onto the teeth on either side of the space in the child’s mouth.
There are several kinds of fixed space maintainers:
All under one roof
At Wells Orthodontics each space maintainer is custom-made in our laboratory. For a fixed space maintainer, a metal band is placed around one of the teeth next to the space, and impressions are made from which the space maintainer is created. It is then cemented into place and can all happen in one visit. To make a removable space maintainer, we take impressions from which the lab then makes the appliance and you return for fitting.
Caring for your space maintainer
The space maintainer may feel unusual at first. But after a few days, it will be forgotten about. A removable space maintainer with replacement teeth can affect speech until you become accustomed to it. It’s important to brush regularly to keep the gum tissue healthy. Patients with a fixed space maintainer need to avoid hard or sticky foods and gum, which can loosen the band or get caught in the wire arm. Avoid pushing on the space maintainer as it could bend or come loose. If the space maintainer comes loose, there is a risk of swallowing it. At Wells Orthodontics you will be given clear guidelines and we will always be at hand for advice or if you need to come in the unlikely event you experience any problems.
Not every tooth that is lost too early requires a space maintainer. If one of the four upper front teeth is lost early, the space will stay open on its own. If the permanent tooth is about to erupt, it may be decided not to use a space maintainer unless a child needs braces and space is a critical issue. Some children may not be able to cooperate during the process of making the space maintainer. Others may be at risk of injury if the space maintainer comes loose or breaks. These include children with diseases that affect how they breathe or swallow, and children who are very young.