A space maintainer is very similar in purpose and design to an adult "bridge." It is used in pediatric dentistry to preserve tooth-space when a child’s tooth is lost early due to trauma, decay, or slow eruption. Instead of placing artificial teeth over a tooth-gap (as would be the case with a dental bridge), the space is kept open with a metal loop or “shoe” until the eruption of the child’s permanent tooth. This type of device is called a space maintainer.
Dental space maintainers fall into four classifications: removable, fixed, bilateral, or unilateral. Removable means the device is removable; fixed maintainers are cemented in place until removed by your dentist; bilateral maintainers preserve spaces on both sides of the mouth; and unilateral maintainers preserve a space on just one side of the mouth. This dental procedure code applies to a fixed, unilateral space maintainer.
Space maintainers are made of metal (or sometimes metal and plastic), and are custom-molded to the shape of your child's mouth. In most cases, the maintainer is made up of a metal band attached to a rectangular-shaped wire that butts up against the tooth across the gap. To some, the final product looks like an old metal snow sled, or a shoe horn you might use to maintain the shape of unworn shoes.