Space maintainers are a common treatment option in pediatric dentistry. When a baby tooth is lost prematurely, your child may need a space maintainer to “save” the space until the permanent tooth is ready to erupt. Baby teeth are important because they save space for the permanent tooth, which will erupt into its position when the baby tooth is lost normally.
If a primary tooth (baby or milk tooth), has to be removed early due to say, an abscess, or is knocked out in some kind of trauma, a space maintainer may be recommended to save the space. If the space is not preserved, the other teeth may drift causing difficulties and making it hard to treat crowding and orthodontic problems. Space maintainers are routinely used when a posterior tooth is lost prematurely. If a front tooth is lost too early, then space maintainers are not usually needed. Parents have the option to have a “Pedi Partial” to replace the missing front teeth for aesthetic reasons.
Now “Spacers” may be in there for a while, but they are not permanent. They are removed when the new tooth (usually a bicuspid) erupts or the abutment teeth get loose. Spacers can be fixed or removable, unilateral or bilateral.