Space maintainers are utilized when children lose their baby teeth prior to their normal exfoliation. This is usually due to trauma, decay, or infection. When a tooth is lost ahead of schedule, adjacent teeth have an opportunity to drift into the space where the lost tooth previously was. Though this may sound like an acceptable outcome, it can actually cause a lot of spacing and alignment problems when permanent teeth start to erupt into the mouth.
Because of this, space maintainers are used to fill in the space where the tooth is missing so that the other teeth stay in their original position. There are two types of space maintainers: fixed and removable. Fixed space maintainers are made out of stainless steel orthodontic bands with a wire soldered to it. Examples include: band and loop, lower lingual holding arch, transpalatal arch, pediatric partial denture, and Nance appliance. Each of these has specific indications and can be discussed with Dr. Drew if they are necessary. Removable space maintainers are not used often due to pediatric patient compliance and increased risk of tooth movement.