If a child loses a baby tooth prematurely and the permanent (adult) tooth has not erupted yet, a space maintainer may be used to maintain the space needed for the developing permanent tooth. A baby tooth can be lost early because of early exfoliation, trauma, resorption, crowding, infection, or other factors. The loss of the tooth creates a space and the only way to prevent other teeth from drifting into that space is through the use of space maintainers.
Palate expanders are used to increase the width of the upper jaw and create more space for the alignment of teeth. They are worn for approximately 6 months and are used to fix crossbites and create more space for erupting permanent teeth.