What are space maintainers?
A space maintainer is an orthodontic appliance that is used to hold a space that is left when a baby tooth falls out or it is removed prematurely. When a baby tooth is lost, and the adult tooth that will replace it is not developed or ready to erupt, the space will need to be held to ensure that the adult tooth has an appropriate place to grow. By placing a space maintainer, you can prevent teeth from shifting or drifting and becoming crowded out, malocclusions (misalignment of teeth), and other orthodontic conditions.
Baby teeth may fall out on their own prematurely or be lost due to trauma or caries. Once a baby tooth has been lost or removed, a space maintainer will typically be placed soon after. This appliance will stay in place until the adult tooth is ready to erupt.
Unsure if a baby tooth was lost too early? Visit your dentist, or check out the Canadian Dental Associations chart here.
Common Types of Space Maintainers
Band and Loop Space Maintainer – A band and loop space maintainer is a fixed appliance that includes a stainless steel band that is temporarily placed around a permanent molar, with a stainless steel wire that loops out and extends to the next primary tooth in place. This appliance is helpful to maintain a single tooth space.
Trans-palatal Arch (TPA) – A trans-palatal arch is a fixed appliance that includes stainless steel bands that are temporarily placed around the upper permanent molar. This version of a space maintainer is used to hold the upper permanent molars in place, stabilizing the position of these teeth during or after the movement of other teeth in the mouth.
Lingual Holding Arch – A lingual holding arch is another common fixed space maintainer that consists of stainless steel bands and a wire that passively contacts the inside surface of the lower teeth. This type of appliance is used when a baby tooth is lost in the lower arch, and we need to preserve the space. It can also be used to help upright the molars if space has been lost and these teeth have been allowed to drift. The wire is on the tongue side of the lower teeth.
Nance Appliance – A nance is another type of fixed space maintainer that is comprised of stainless steel rings around the molars, and a looped wire that has an acrylic button on the roof of the mouth. This appliance is used to stabilize the position of the upper molar teeth while other teeth are being moved, or afterwards as a holding device.
These are the most commonly used fixed appliances that we use in our office to maintain space, and they may be recommended for a variety of reasons to suit your treatment needs. We will monitor the appliances and eruption on a regular interval.
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