If a baby tooth needs to be removed prematurely, the space reserved for the permanent tooth that will come up to replace the baby tooth gets lost, which will cause severe crowding and an incorrect bite later in life.
A space maintainer is an appliance that consists of a metal ring attached to a tooth next to the where the baby tooth was taken out. Attached to the metal ring is a wire arm that extends forward to another tooth to maintain the space until the permanent tooth comes through.
Space maintainers are completed over two visits. The first visit involves using a special digital camera to scan into the computer a mould of the teeth and the space created by the missing tooth. The digital mould is e-mailed to a dental laboratory where the space maintainer is constructed.
At a second visit, the constructed space maintainer is then cemented onto the tooth.