Preventing a Problem Before it Occurs
A primary tooth sometimes is prematurely lost because of tooth decay or injury. If that happens before the permanent tooth is fully developed and ready to emerge, the nearby teeth can drift forward ant tip into the space formerly occupied by the primary tooth.
When the permanent tooth tries to grow into the spot, there may not be enough room for it. The new tooth may emerge lopsided or be unable to erupt at all and become impacted into the bone.
A space maintainer holds open the spot left by a lost primary tooth until the permanent tooth is ready to emerge. It is a small appliance that is cemented to the tooth behind the space (refer to the above diagram). The dentist will remove this appliance once the permanent tooth appears and continues to erupt into the open space. The appliance will be checked at every six month recall visit therefore it is important that your child be seen on a regular recall basis.