Julie M. Russo D.M.D.

Diplomate of the American
Board of Pediatric Dentistry

Space Maintenance

Why do children lose their baby teeth?

A baby tooth usually stays in until a permanent tooth underneath pushes it out and takes its place. Unfortunately, some children lose a baby tooth too soon due to an accident or disease. When a tooth is lost too early, Dr. Russo may recommend a space maintainer to prevent future space loss and dental problems.

Why all the fuss? Baby teeth eventually fall out on their own!

Baby teeth are important to your child's present and future dental health. They encourage normal development of the jaw bones and muscles. They save space for the permanent teeth and guide them into position. Remember: Some baby teeth are not replaced until a child is 12 years old. Space maintainers are so important, in fact, that most insurance companies will pay 100% for them. You will need to check with your specific insurance company for your particular benefits.

What are space maintainers?

Space maintainers hold open the empty space left by a prematurely lost tooth. They steady the remaining teeth, preventing movement until the permanent tooth takes its natural position in the jaw. It’s more affordable-and easier on your child-to keep teeth in normal position with a space maintainer than to move them back in place with orthodontic treatment.

What special care do space maintainers need?

Dr. Russo has four rules for space maintainer care. First, no sticky candy or chewing gum. Second, don't tug or push on it with your tongue or fingers. Third, keep it clean with conscientious brushing and flossing. Fourth, and most important, continue with routine dental care.