This study was designed to evaluate the amount of space loss (SL) caused by premature loss of primary second molars, determine whether the eruption status of permanent first molars is an important factor in the amount of SL, and evaluate the effectiveness of space maintainers (SMs) in SL prevention. SL associated with 100 prematurely extracted primary second molars was evaluated in 87 healthy patients. Teeth were divided into groups based on the use of SMs (36 with SM and 64 without SM). Bitewing and periapical radiographs taken before extraction and 6, 12, 24, 36, and 48 months after extraction were used to determine the amount of SL. Not every patient attended every recall appointment, so the sample size varied at different evaluation times. The most significant amount of SL occurred in the first 12 months after extraction. In patients who did not use an SM, at 6 months there was a mean SL of 2.12 mm (SD, 1.65 mm) and at 12 months there was a mean of 4.02 mm (SD, 1.65), with significantly more SL in the first 6 months (P <0.001). There was no statistically significant difference in the amount of SL found at 12 and 24 months (P > 0.05). When patients without an SM were grouped by the eruption status of the permanent first molar, there was significantly more SL in the groups with unerupted first molars than there was in the groups with erupted first molars at both 6 months (P <0.001) and 12 months (P <0.05). At both 6 and 12 months, the amount of SL in patients who had an SM (n = 13 and n = 14, respectively) was not significantly different from the amount of SL in those who did not have an SM (n = 33 and n = 23, respectively). SMs should be placed as soon as possible following tooth extraction to prevent undue SL. Placement of an SM a year or more after extraction has minimal benefit, since most SL takes place within the first year. SL does occur even when SMs are used.
|Original language||English (US)|
|State||Published - Nov 1 2015|
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