Space Maintainers
In Modesto

What Are Space Maintainers?

A space maintainer is a stainless steel oral appliance that is placed in the mouth where there is a gap due to a prematurely lost tooth. As the name suggests, it maintains the space in your child’s mouth by holding open the gap, preventing the surrounding teeth from moving, and encouraging the proper eruption of the permanent tooth.

 Has your child lost a baby tooth? Contact our Modesto children's dental team at First Smiles Children's Dentistry today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Chris Ha. We can examine your child’s teeth and determine if a space maintainer is necessary and which one type is most appropriate. Call (209) 343-3500.

Modesto space maintainers

Did you know…

Space maintainers are made of durable materials such as stainless steel, plastic, or acrylic.

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Types of Space Maintainers

Fixed or Removable

There are many different kinds of space maintainers that can be used depending on the specific teeth your child has lost and their position in the mouth. Your kids dentist in Modesto would first choose between fixed or removable space maintainers. 

Fixed is the most common option because young children tend to want to play with or remove their space maintainer if they can take it out. Removable space maintainers are not very common and are only used in older children who can comply with their treatment.


Then, we will decide if a unilateral or bilateral maintainer is necessary. Unilateral means a single tooth or multiple teeth are missing on one side of the mouth, while bilateral is used for teeth that are missing on both sides of the mouth.

Crown and Loop

The most common type of space maintainer is known as a band and loop which is used to maintain the space of a single missing tooth. A stainless steel band is placed around a tooth and a wire loop holds the space open. Alternatively, when a stainless steel crown needs to be placed around the abutment tooth, a crown and loop will be used.

Have questions about space maintenance? Find answers here.

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What Happens If My Child Doesn’t Get a Space Maintainer?

Parents may not realize the importance of their children maintaining healthy baby teeth since they are going to fall out anyway. However, these teeth serve many more purposes than just chewing and maintaining a good-looking smile. 

The baby teeth are responsible for holding the space in the mouth for the permanent tooth to erupt into when it’s ready. When this tooth is lost too soon, whether due to decay or oral trauma, there’s now nothing maintaining the space. 

This will cause the surrounding teeth to drift, which can cause orthodontic problems like crooked teeth. When the teeth shift, it can also block the space that the permanent tooth needs to be open to properly erupt. If there is no space for the permanent tooth to erupt, it can become impacted in the gums.

How Long Does My Child Need to Wear a Space Maintainer?

Your child will need to wear a space maintainer until the permanent tooth is ready to erupt. Because certain teeth erupt at different ages, it depends on the age your child was when they lost the tooth and what type of tooth it was. 

When permanent teeth are due to erupt very soon, your child may not need a space maintainer at all. However, if it will be a few years before the permanent teeth come in, a space maintainer could be necessary for a few years. 

Space maintainers are also unnecessary for the front four teeth in the upper and lower jaw. This is because the space will remain open when these teeth are lost, regardless of an oral appliance.

Your child will return for regular follow-up appointments with your children's dentist in Modesto to check on the condition of their space maintainer and to look for signs that the permanent tooth is ready to erupt. At this time, we can remove the space maintainer.

Have questions about SPACE MAINTAINERS for your child? Find answers here.

What Does A Space Maintainers Do?

If your child requires a tooth extraction or loses a baby tooth early, a space maintainer may be recommended to help your child’s teeth stay properly aligned by not allowing the neighboring teeth to move into the new open space. Basically, a space maintainer will hold ‘space’ for the new permanent tooth to develop and erupt normally which may take several months.

Are Space Maintainers Removable?

Some types of space maintainers are removable. These may be more convenient for older kids, since they can be removed to brush and floss. Some removable space maintainers may even have an artificial tooth, which helps fill in the gap in their smile temporarily. But because they're removable, your child must be diligent about wearing their space maintainer regularly. That’s why, for most kids, we recommend a fixed “band and loop” space maintainer. These space maintainers are permanently fixed in place by Dr. Chris Ha. Fixed space maintainers can’t be lost and are less likely to be damaged, so they're a better option for younger kids.

Do Space Maintainers Need Special Care?

Yes. If your child gets a fixed space maintainer from First Smiles Children’s Dentistry, they should avoid chewing on very sticky foods. That means no chewing gum, toffee, gummy candy, caramel, or similar foods. These could weaken and loosen the space maintainer over time, and are also hard to clean out from around the space maintainer.

Speaking of cleaning, you also should make sure that your child is brushing and flossing properly around their new space maintainer. Since food particles can get trapped in this area, the nearby teeth could be more cavity-prone. Proper oral hygiene is essential for reducing the risk of future cavities. Make sure to bring them into our office for routine six-month checkups and teeth cleanings, too!

Also, tell your child to avoid messing with their space maintainer. They should not poke or prod it with their fingers, tongue, pens and pencils, or any other objects. This could loosen their space maintainer over time.

Will Dental Insurance Pay For A Space Maintainer?

The answer is usually “yes.” If your child loses a baby tooth early, a space maintainer is usually considered to be a “medically necessary” treatment by most dental insurance companies. This means that your dental insurance will cover the cost of a space maintainer, up to all applicable limits and based on your policy.

Our office team can let you know if this is a covered expense or you may contact your insurer with questions about your policy. Every insurance plan is different, so it’s a good idea to confirm your child’s coverage.

Do Space Maintainers Hurt?

No. Getting a space maintainer is a simple and painless process. Your child may experience some slight discomfort as they adjust to their space maintainer, since it’s meant to put a bit of pressure on the nearby teeth. However, after an adjustment period of a few days, they won’t feel any discomfort at all.

What If My Child’s Space Maintainer Loosens Or Breaks?

If you notice that your child’s space maintainer is loose or it breaks, you should get in touch with First Smiles Children’s Dentistry right away. Dr. Chris Ha will need to repair or replace their space maintainer to ensure that the nearby teeth don’t move.T

he sooner you get help, the better. If your child’s teeth move after they break or lose their space maintainer, more complicated and expensive orthodontic treatments may be needed to restore the alignment of their teeth in the future.

space maintainers in Modesto

Did you know…

Space maintainers can help prevent oral issues from forming later in your child’s life.

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Did you know…

All the 20 baby teeth will fall out before your child becomes an adult.

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