If a baby tooth is prematurely lost due to an accident or severe decay and/or abscess, the space should be saved for the future eruption of the permanent tooth. A space maintainer is a combination of bands and wires designed to hold the remaining teeth in a position that will allow the future permanent tooth to erupt in the proper location. A space maintainer is typically placed where a back tooth is lost. Space loss does not usually occur when front teeth are lost; therefore, space maintainers are usually not recommended for front teeth.
Prompt placement of a space maintainer will give the permanent tooth the best chance of erupting in the mouth in the correct location. This will minimize orthodontic problems caused by premature loss of a baby tooth and shifting of teeth.
Your child will need to wear the appliance until the permanent tooth erupts. If not kept clean, decay can occur under the bands.
If a space maintainer is not placed, the teeth will shift into the open area, making it difficult, or in some cases impossible, for the permanent tooth to erupt. This requires orthodontics to remedy the situation.