Space Maintainers - Braces R Us

(208) 737-0006

Twin Falls

(208) 788-0126


(480) 668-8200


Space Maintainers

Space Maintainers

Date: October 27, 2023

Space maintainers are an important preventive appliance that can have a lasting benefit when used appropriately. There are several varieties of space maintainers. Generally, they fall into two categories; fixed and removable. These categories are subdivided into unilateral and bilateral. Unilateral space maintainers usually hold the space of a single missing tooth. Bilateral space maintainers are capable of holding multiple spaces anywhere in the dental arch.

Fixed space maintainers are banded, bonded, or fixed to the teeth and are meant to stay in place until they are removed by the doctor. The patient cleans the space maintainer when they brush their teeth. The fixed space maintainer needs to be checked on a consistent basis by the doctor. These checks usually occur twice a year; more frequently if the patient is actively loosing baby teeth, less frequently if little growth or dental changes are occurring.

The most common bilateral fixed space maintainer is the lingual arch. It is a very good space maintainer as well as a retainer if Phase I orthodontic treatment has been done. A lingual arch is often placed so that “E-Space” can be preserved. The baby 2nd molar is larger than the permanent 2nd premolar that replaces it. The baby 2nd molar is frequently labeled as tooth #E, hence the space gained in the exchange of the baby tooth for the permanent tooth is called Espace. If left unmanaged, the E-space lost as the permanent first molar erupts into the mouth. If a space maintainer is used to hold the E-space, this space can be used to reduce crowding, correct the molar bite, or help adjust the overbite.

Removable space maintainers usually look like an orthodontic retainer and can be effective at preserving a single space, or spaces on both sides of the mouth. They are most often bilateral space maintainers. Removable space maintainers can also have a temporary tooth replacement so the opposing tooth has something to bite against. This can be important to give the opposing tooth something to bite against so that it does not grow into the space of the missing tooth. If this happens, the over-eruption of the opposing tooth can prevent the permanent replacement tooth from growing in all the way.

It is critical to determine the best time to place a space maintainer to acquire the maximum benefit. Generally, if a baby tooth is lost prematurely, a space maintainer should be placed immediately after tooth loss. If the space maintainer is being used to hold space while the patient transitions from the baby teeth to the permanent teeth, the space maintainer should be placed early enough to preserve all the space available.

Regardless of what type of space maintainer is used, they are a very beneficial tool that can be used to help teeth grow into a better position than they would otherwise. Whether a baby tooth is extracted because of decay, is knocked out by some trauma, or just lost early, saving the space that the tooth occupied is a good idea. Space maintainers can prevent several potential problems that result from premature tooth loss and are a good investment in health, tooth growth, bite function, and esthetics.

IPR, ARS; Whats With All the Acronyms?

IPR and ARS are acronyms that are commonly used in conjunction with orthodontic treatment, but they are generally unknown outside of orthodontics. Just like in the acronym filled military, orthodontists have their own language and acronyms. So what are IPR and ARS?...

Invisalign & Clear Aligner Therapy (CAT)

Today, Invisalign is a household name and everyone knows what it is, but it wasn't always this way. The concept of incremental tooth movement is not new, and the inventor of Invisalign did not really invent anything. What he did do was see how technology could be...

Invisalign Retainers

Once we get the braces off or finish treatment with clear aligners and move to retainers, we tend to think that treatment is completed. This is not completely accurate. The active part of treatment where the teeth are being moved into place is done, but retention is...

Invisalign Touch-up

It is not uncommon for us as patients to get lazy with our retainer wear. Once we get lazy and start to move away from consistent retainer wear, it doesn't take long before we are never wearing our retainers. If the orthodontist has done their job and finished the...

Cross-Bites and Bite Ramps

Cross-bites are a common problem in young kids and if not corrected, they can cause real problems with facial growth and development, jaw joints, and oral function. Obviously, some cross-bites are more detrimental than others, but none of them are good. You may be...

Phase I or Limited Treatment

Many types of early treatment are labeled “Phase I” or may also be presented as a “Limited Treatment.” The purpose of a Phase I treatment plan or a limited treatment plan is to provide a problem focused treatment that is limited in scope and duration. This approach to...

Habit Appliances

There are a multitude of appliances that are designed to help break, control, or prevent habits that are detrimental to oral development and function. Appliances have been designed to encourage and support normal oral functional development from infancy through...

What do elastics do and why do I need to wear them?

Almost everyone gets to wear elastics at some point in their orthodontic treatment. Elastics are used for an extremely wide variety of reasons and they are one of the most versatile auxiliaries used in treatment. The main reason they are used is to adjust the bite....

Why do I get pokey wires and what should I do when I get one?

Pokey wires are not fun, and they seem to appear at the most inconvenient times. Although painful, they are usually not a true orthodontic emergency, and can be treated easily and quickly at home with a little orthodontic wax.Whenever a patient starts orthodontic...