Space maintainers are used when children lose their baby teeth early. This sometimes happen due to trauma or even decay. When a tooth is lost, other teeth will shift to fill in the space. Though this sounds good, it actually can cause a lot of spacing and alignment problems when the adult teeth start to come in. Because of this, spacers are used to fill in the space where the tooth is missing so that the other teeth stay in place.
There are two types of spacers: fixed and removable. Fixed spacers use a “band and loop,” “crown and loop,” or “distal shoe” type of spacer to fill the space where the tooth is missing. Fixed spacers are usually metal and can last a long time. There are times when we can place an enamel tooth into the space to improve the smile’s appearance.
Removable space maintainers are not used often. They work like orthodontic retainers, placing special plastic parts in the spot where the tooth is missing.
We also offer thumb-sucking appliances for children who don’t outgrow this bad habit. Children who continue to suck their thumbs after they are five or six can suffer complications such as impacted and misaligned teeth. An appliance called a “palatal crib” has the ability to stop thumb sucking immediately.