If your child loses a baby tooth at an earlier age than is typical, their dentist may recommend a space maintainer. You’re probably wondering what you need to know about space maintainers and if one is necessary for your child.

Space maintainers are used to hold space until a child’s adult or permanent teeth come in. If the space is not held by a maintainer, then the adult teeth can come in out of alignment which might cause problems that could be expensive to fix in the long run.

What Causes Early Tooth Loss?

Baby teeth may be lost early for many different reasons. They might be knocked out by an injury or trauma, for example if a child trips and falls. Or they might need to be removed by a dentist because of a cavity or other condition or disease that has damaged the tooth. Some children are simply born with missing baby teeth.

Types of Space Maintainers

What you need to know about space maintainers may depend on what type is recommended for your child. There are generally two types of space maintainers: removable and fixed. The type of space maintainer your child’s dentist recommends is typically based on several factors including age, location of the missing tooth, and the type of space needing to be maintained.


Removable space maintainers might look similar to a removable retainer and attach to nearby teeth. It is typically used when the gap of a missing tooth would be noticable. It might utilize an artificial tooth or block to maintain the space. A removable space maintainer is typically recommended only if a child is old enough to be able to properly take care of the appliance and wear it as directed.


Fixed space maintainers are typically fixed to the surrounding teeth by dental cement, much like braces. They usually work well for children who are too young for a removable appliance. There are also many types of fixed maintainers that attach in different ways and fit different areas of the mouth and different sized gaps to meet the many varied needs of each child. What you need to know about space maintainers can be narrowed down by considering the needs and habits of your child, and which suits them more, a removable or fixed maintainer.

Good Dental Health Begins Early

Space maintainers might sound unnecessary to you if you never had one as a child, but they are an excellent advancement in pediatric dental and orthodontic care because they can help children to avoid costly dental and orthodontic procedures in the future.

If you’re wanting to learn more about what you need to know about space maintainers, or if your child has lost a tooth recently, it’s a great time to make an appointment with a dentist for an exam for your child. You can ask if your child might need a space maintainer and what type would be best for them. You can’t start thinking about dental health for your child too early.

Call our McKinney Dental Office to make an appointment with a dentist who may be able to help you find out more about this topic, and improve your oral health.

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