Space Maintainers

When a child’s baby tooth is lost early due to decay, infection, or injury, a space maintainer may be recommended to guide the permanent tooth into its place. A space maintainer is an appliance that is cemented onto one or both teeth on each side of the missing tooth. Sometimes a bilateral space maintainer is used when there are two or more missing teeth on each side of the mouth. The space maintainer keeps the space open until the permanent tooth is ready to come in.

It will take your child a few weeks to become accustomed to talking and eating with his/her new appliance. He/she may experience a strange feeling of comfortableness, soreness and tightness during this time.

what happens after a space maintainer is placed?


Pain medication may be given as part of the treatment. If given, take the medication as instructed. If no pain medication was given, your child may take over the counter medication such as Children’s Advil or Children’s Tylenol to ease discomfort.

An ice pack or an unopened bag of frozen peas or corn applied to the area will keep tenderness to a minimum. Do not place the compress for more than 15-20 minutes at a time.


Follow the guidelines below to help your child get accustom to his/her new appliance. Doing so will help to avoid potential problems such as the appliance becoming loose or bent. If the appliance becomes loose, there is a risk of swallowing or inhaling into the lungs.

Brush at least twice a day and floss at least once a day, not brushing and flossing regularly can cause the gums in the space to grow over the wire of the appliance.  This may cause tenderness, swelling and infection which could lead to surgical removal of the overgrown gums.

Inspect your child’s appliance on a regular basis.

Keep your child’s regular dental cleaning and checkup appointments. We will inspect the appliance at the appointment and will remove it once the permanent tooth is ready to erupt.

DO NOT eat chewy, sticky foods and candy such as Starburst, gummy worms/bears, Gum, and caramel.

DO NOT bite down on hard foods such as hard candy, steak, corn, ribs, apples, uncooked carrots, broccoli.

DO NOT push on the appliance with your tongue, fingers or foreign objects.


If your child’s appliance breaks and it is sent off to the lab, there may be a charge and your insurance may not cover it.


Call our office at 828-256-3400 if your child experiences severe tooth sensitivity, persistent tooth or gum pain, bleeding, swelling, allergic reaction to a prescribed medication (if given).