What is a Space Maintainer? It is very often a small stainless steel wire and band joined together which is cemented on one of the teeth adjacent to a gap where a permanent tooth should be erupting. Occasionally a plastic plate may be used if more than one or two teeth are involved.
Why is a Space Maintainer needed? Usually when milk teeth are lost especially in the back of the mouth, the following adult teeth that are developing in the jaw are already near the surface and follow the lost teeth without any problem. But occasionally some of the milk teeth may be lost prematurely because of severe decay and unless the gap left by this tooth loss is kept open until the permanent teeth in the gum are ready to erupt, the teeth behind the space may drift forwards and the space lost. If this happens crowding of the teeth often occurs and the permanent teeth in question do not have enough room to come through in the correct position.
Will my Dentist provide this retainer? Space Maintainers have to be professionally made and fitted, and only qualified dentists can provide you with them.
When will I need to wear it? If the Space maintainer is cemented onto one of the teeth, the appliance is worn 24 hours a day until the permanent tooth in question is erupting through the gum. If it is a removable plastic appliance, it should be worn almost all the time, except during playing sports. It must only be taken out for short periods, normally at least twice a day for cleaning.
How long will I need to wear it? This all depends on how long it takes for the tooth or teeth to erupt though the gum.
How do I clean it? Both removable and fixed appliances must be cleaned thoroughly. Use the same brush that you use for cleaning your teeth. You must be very thorough with a fixed appliance as it has little spaces where food can get trapped. If the appliance is removable do remember never to wrap them in tissues or paper handkerchiefs if you are not going to wear them immediately. They will get thrown out with the paper and the valuable appliance will need to be made again right from the beginning.