How Space Maintainers Can Prevent Future Dental Problems For Your Child

Dr. Kelly Jobe | Pediatric Dentist | St. Louis, MO

Ensuring your child’s dental health is crucial for their overall well-being and development. One often overlooked yet essential component in pediatric dentistry is the use of space maintainers. At Kids Smiles Pediatric Dentistry, led by Dr. Kelly Jobe, we understand the importance of these devices and how they can prevent future dental problems. Here’s a comprehensive guide on how space maintainers work and their long-term benefits.

What Are Space Maintainers?

Space maintainers are orthodontic devices used to hold space for permanent teeth when a baby tooth is lost prematurely. These appliances are custom-made by a pediatric dentist to fit between the teeth in a child’s mouth. They can be made of metal or acrylic and may be removable or cemented permanently.

Why Are Space Maintainers Necessary?

When a baby tooth is lost too early, the surrounding teeth can shift into the empty space, causing crowding and misalignment of the incoming permanent teeth. This can lead to various dental issues, including impacted teeth, which may require more extensive orthodontic treatment, such as braces, or even extractions in the future. Space maintainers help to:

  • Preserve Space: They ensure there is enough room for the permanent teeth to erupt properly.
  • Prevent Misalignment: By holding the space, they prevent neighboring teeth from drifting into the gap.
  • Avoid Orthodontic Complications: Proper spacing reduces the need for complex orthodontic procedures later on.

How Do Space Maintainers Work?

Space maintainers are relatively simple devices that can be installed in one or two visits to the dentist. Here’s a step-by-step overview of the process:

  1. Initial Consultation: The pediatric dentist examines the child’s mouth and takes X-rays to determine the need for a space maintainer.
  2. Customization: Impressions of the child’s teeth are taken to create a custom-fitted space maintainer.
  3. Fitting: Once the device is ready, it is fitted and adjusted to ensure it is comfortable and effective.
  4. Follow-Up: Regular check-ups are scheduled to monitor the device and ensure it remains effective as the child’s mouth grows.

Types of Space Maintainers

There are several types of space maintainers, and the choice depends on the child’s specific needs:

  • Fixed Space Maintainers: These are cemented into place and remain until the permanent tooth erupts.
  • Removable Space Maintainers: Similar to retainers, these can be taken out for cleaning and are typically used for older children.

Long-Term Benefits of Space Maintainers

Using a space maintainer can have significant long-term benefits for your child’s dental health:

  • Proper Alignment: Helps permanent teeth come in straight and aligned, reducing the need for braces.
  • Healthy Bite: Maintains the correct bite and jaw alignment, which is crucial for chewing and speaking.
  • Reduced Dental Costs: Prevents the need for more expensive and extensive dental procedures in the future.

Caring for Space Maintainers

Taking care of space maintainers is relatively straightforward:

  • Oral Hygiene: Encourage your child to brush and floss regularly to keep the space maintainer and surrounding teeth clean.
  • Diet: Avoid sticky or hard foods that could damage the space maintainer.
  • Regular Check-Ups: Visit the dentist regularly to ensure the space maintainer is functioning correctly and to make any necessary adjustments.


Space maintainers are a simple yet highly effective solution for preventing future dental problems caused by premature loss of baby teeth. At Kids Smiles Pediatric Dentistry, we are committed to providing the best pediatric dental care in the greater St. Louis, MO area. Dr. Kelly Jobe and her team are here to guide you through every step of your child’s dental journey, ensuring they have a healthy, beautiful smile.

If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment, contact us today. We’re here to help and provide the best care for your child’s dental health.

By understanding the importance and benefits of space maintainers, you can make informed decisions about your child’s dental care and set them up for a lifetime of healthy smiles.

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