woman getting spacers for braces When it comes to braces, there are several steps that go into the process. In the orthodontic field, spacers for braces are the first step towards your actual fitting for the hardware. Some people have heard them alternately called “orthodontic separators,” which is precisely what they are. Many patients find the overall appearance of spacers for braces to be surprising. That’s because spacers are actually small elastic rings, similar to small rubber bands.

There are multiple parts of braces. These tiny blue rings are approximately one centimeter in diameter. The placement of the spacers occurs on either side of the teeth in a parallel arrangement. This helps the gap remain smaller at first instead of beginning as a large gap. Spacers for braces can remain in the mouth for varying periods. For some patients, they’re only necessary for a few days before the fitting of braces. 

Why are Spacers for Braces Necessary?

The design of orthodontic separators is quite simple, but they are very important in the process of getting braces. When your braces are first fitted, it is critical that the rear molars do not fit too tightly to each other. The braces will work to progressively shift your teeth and align them properly. If during this process the back molars begin fitting too closely against each other, it can become quite uncomfortable. In fact, cavities can form or your an alteration to your bite can occur. This change could mean that the top and bottom teeth come together when in biting position. To prevent this from happening, we place orthodontic separators between the back three teeth in the mouth on both sides.

How Do Orthodontists Fit Spacers for Brace?

The spacer fitting process is simple, but some consider it to be an uncomfortable experience. Dr. Steven Ricci begins by stretching each elastic space so that it becomes thinner and can be inserted between the teeth. Our orthodontist then releases each band when the correct spacer position is determined. This is usually the place where the spacer’s bottom lies just over the gum line and the spacer top is located in a level position with the lowest crown point of each adjacent tooth. This part of the procedure is commonly referred to as “flossing.”

Are Spacers for Braces Painful?

Some people find the separator fitting process to be painless, but it is common to experience some discomfort, particularly jaw tenderness caused by the force needed to conduct the fitting. At first, it can seem as though a large food particle is stuck in between your teeth. This may lead to the sensation of pressure in between your teeth or gums. This feeling can range from a minor irritation to a sensation not unlike a toothache.

If your molars are tightly set, you may have more discomfort since the spacers will have to create more space to form the necessary gap between the teeth. Most people find that their pain or discomfort begins fading after the first couple of days of wearing separators, while others experience some discomfort for as long as one week following their fitting.

Can you Manage Any Discomfort?

Any pain or discomfort caused by the placement of spacers can be minimized by using a mixture of pain medications and changes to your diet. Dr. Steven Ricci will not normally prescribe pain medication for separators since any pain or discomfort can usually be minimized with the use of over-the-counter pain medications. Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen, and Naproxen should help manage any pain you are experiencing.

You should avoid biting down strongly on your teeth while you are experiencing discomfort because this added stress can lead to increased sensations of pain and discomfort. You may also wish to avoid chewing hard foods that require increased force upon your sensitive teeth and gums. Instead, you should select softer foods, such as yogurt, mashed potatoes, and cereal, to limit irritation due to chewing. Some discomfort may continue, but eating softer foods should prevent it from worsening.

Is Special Care Necessary when Wearing Spacers?

You can mostly eat the same foods you normally eat, although you should avoid foods that are sticky, such as chewing gum, toffee, caramel, and gummy candies, because they tend to stick to your dental work, pulling them out of position. If your spacers fall out too soon, they will require refitting. If you do not have them refitted, your teeth will not end up in their optimum position. You may brush your teeth and rinse normally, but you should not floss between your teeth to avoid the risk of dislodging your separators.

Will Bands Replace my Spacers?

At the time of your fitting for braces, metal bands could replace your original spacers. It will replace the task of the separators by keeping the space that is necessary between the teeth open. In short, yes they will replace bands.

How Do You Remove Spacers?

Removing spacers is a far more comfortable process than the initial fitting. Spacers can even grow loose and fall out prior to the installation of braces. There’s no reason for alarm if this happens. This is because it actually indicates that the spacer did its job and moved teeth into their correct locations.

Any spacers that have not already fallen out can be removed easily by our orthodontist immediately before the attachment of the braces. If you are like most people and are having metal bands attached to teeth, a special dental cement will be used to glue a band around a molar on each side. The separators can either remain or a readjustment can take place. This will happen if Dr. Steven Ricci feels that they should replace metal bands.

Feel free to learn more about spacers for braces in Johns Creek, Georgia, by contacting Ricci Orthodontics at (678) 932-0308.