What Are Spacers For Teeth: A Detailed Guide

Traditional braces1 are made out of brackets and metal wires, and this is what most people think of when they think of braces.

But did you know that before receiving braces, you may need orthodontic spacers? Orthodontic spacers are frequently used to help your mouth adjust to spacers for braces.

1. Orthodontic Spacers For Teeth

a ceramic denture
Image by amr taha on unsplash

Braces can help you straighten crooked teeth and correcting your teeth with braces2 is a simple procedure.

Your teeth must be prepared for braces before you can get them. Inserting spacers between some of your teeth is one method your orthodontist can prepare your mouth for all of the hardware of braces.

If you require spacers, you will only need them for a short time, but you must ensure that they are properly cared for while you are wearing them.

2. Why Do You Need Orthodontic Spacers?

You may need to consult an orthodontist if you’re concerned about your misaligned teeth. An orthodontist is not the same as a dentist.

A general dentist will generally treat you for plaque a3nd cavities. However, an orthodontist is a dentist who specializes in correcting the alignment or placement of your teeth in the mouth.

Braces and other orthodontic materials are used by orthodontists to treat a variety of mouth disorders, including:

  • Overbite \ Underbite
  • Teeth that are crooked or crowded

Orthodontic spacers4 may be used to create some space between certain teeth, which are usually the molar or back teeth, and allow the placement of the metal bands around these teeth.

Small elastic or metal separators are used between permanent teeth to create gaps in orthodontic treatment. The separators have a diameter of around a centimetre.

After determining your individual dental needs, your orthodontist will install them where they are needed.

You may experience pain, tenderness, and soreness when spacers are first placed between your teeth. This is because of the spacers’ forced movement of your teeth.

Don’t be alarmed. The discomfort and soreness disappear after a few days.

Typically, spacers are left in place for one to two weeks. You’ll need to be careful about what things you eat so that the spacers don’t come away. It’s also possible that flossing between teeth with spacers isn’t a good idea.

Is It Necessary To Use Spacers Before Braces?


Most people with traditional braces will require spacers, also known as orthodontic separators.

Brackets are bonded to the surface of your teeth spacers and joined by wires in traditional braces. The wires are attached to metal bands that resemble rings and are placed around several of your back teeth. Those back teeth are frequently crowded together.

Orthodontic separators are used to create a small gap between certain teeth, usually molar bands so that metal bands can be placed around them by your orthodontist.

3. Spacers For Teeth: Types.

Spacers for teeth can be made of different materials. The following are the most prevalent types of tooth spacers5:

  • Rubber Spacers: These are essentially little rubber bands that are usually placed between your molar teeth to generate some more space between them.
  • Metal Spacers: These appear like little metal rings.

4. Advantages Of Orthodontic Spacers For Teeth

  • Perfectly Straight Teeth: One of the purposes of braces is to straighten your teeth.
  • Improved Appearance: Well-aligned teeth will improve your smile and overall appearance.
  • Improved Dental Health: You are more likely to get cavities and plaque if your adult teeth are crowded and misaligned. Brushing and flossing are easier when your teeth are evenly spaced in your mouth.

5. Disadvantages Of Orthodontic Spacers For Teeth

  • Prohibition of Certain Foods: Some foods should be avoided while wearing spacers for teeth or braces. The consumption of these foods may cause the braces to break or get damaged. The repair of the braces will cost you more time and money. The food items that should be avoided include:
  1. Chewy soft foods like gum and licorice
  2. Crunchy food items like popcorn and pretzels
  3. Sticky food items like pizza and caramel
  4. Hard food items like nuts, apples, raw carrots, and pretzels
  5. Sugary foods like candy and lollipops
  • Teeth Decay: It is easier for food to collect, plaque to build up, and cavities to form when you have braces. Sugar consumption can create cavities and discoloration around your braces by causing tooth decay.

6. What Effects Do Orthodontic Spacers Have On Your Health?

In most cases, spacers for teeth have no direct effect on your general health. Spacers for teeth are inconvenient at first, but the long-term health benefits are well worth it.

The following are examples of the initial discomfort:

  • Nerve irritation that causes persistent pain
  • Tenderness while applying pressure to the gaps between the teeth
  • Uncomfortable chewing and discomfort when eating
  • If the spacers rub on your gums, swelling and bleeding may occur

Soft, cold meals can provide soothing, numbing relief, which can assist in alleviating pain and discomfort.

Call your orthodontist if you have any concerns about your discomfort or swelling. They can inquire about your symptoms and determine whether or not they are cause for concern.

Brushing your teeth is still safe and vital, even if you have spacers. Brushing your teeth on a regular basis won’t bother them, and it’s essential for cavity prevention.

7. Procedure Involved

7.1. How Are Spacers Inserted?

How to install spacer elastics

You’ll get spacers for teeth approximately a week before you get braces if you require them.

To place rubber spacers, your orthodontist first stretches each spacer out with a tiny tool or tooth floss. They’ll next wiggle each spacer into place between your molars after you have opened your mouth wide.

As the spacers for teeth move closer to your gumline, you may feel some pressure and a pinching feeling.

7.2. How Are Spacers For Teeth Removed?

The removal of spacers for teeth is a straightforward procedure that should take no more than a few minutes. With a little tool, your orthodontist simply snaps them out of position.

If the spacers have done their job, they should be quite easy to remove.

8. Some Common Doubts

8.1. What Should You Do If Your Braces Spacers Fall Out?

You won’t be able to wear spacers, also known as separators, in your mouth for long. If all goes well, you’ll have them for a week or two before your orthodontist removes them and replaces them with metal bands around your back teeth.

It’s possible that your spacers will fall out before your next appointment. Notify your orthodontist right away if this happens. You may need a new set, or your orthodontist may feel that the gap between your teeth is sufficient.

8.2. Are Spacers More Painful Than Braces?

Everyone’s pain level is different. If you are wondering if dental spacers hurt, one person may find spacers to be quite uncomfortable, while another may find them to be primarily unpleasant.

However, soreness is a regular complaint among people who wear braces and those who acquire tooth spacers before getting metal braces. The good news is that the pain usually fades with time.

According to research, it improves very soon. The discomfort that spacers caused 62 teenagers in a 2015 study showed that the first two days after receiving spacers were the most painful.

However, you might not be able to forget that you’re wearing spacers for teeth in your mouth. You can still feel as if something is stuck between your back teeth.

If you do encounter pain, your orthodontist may recommend that you use an over-the-counter pain medicine such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) to reduce the discomfort.

To ease the soreness, rinse with a warm salt water mixture (1 teaspoon salt to 8 ounces water) three to four times per day.

Read more articles about why teeth hurt

8.3. How To Brush And Floss Your Teeth While Having Spacers?

If you’re wondering how to brush and floss your teeth while wearing spacers, the quick answer is with extreme caution.

To begin, rinse your mouth with water. Brush all surfaces of your teeth carefully with your toothbrush, paying specific attention to your rear teeth. Rinse with water once more.

Finally, floss your teeth, but be careful not to floss the regions where the spacers are positioned. You may unintentionally dislodge one.

8.4. Should Rubber Bands Be Used In Place Of Spacers?

Orthodontic separators are medical devices that should only be used by a professional orthodontist and his or her personnel.

Although elastic rubber band separators resemble rubber bands, they cannot be used as spacers. This could harm your baby teeth or gums, or even get lodged in your gums, causing infection or inflammation.

When it comes to braces, be careful to follow your orthodontist’s directions — your compliance and dental health are crucial to getting a healthy, beautiful smile.

Final Note

The use of spacers for teeth is only the first step toward straightened, more evenly aligned teeth. Because they’re designed to prepare your back teeth for the bands that will be implanted there soon, you won’t have them for long.

Call your orthodontist if you have any issues with your spacers for bracers. In the meantime, be gentle with your teeth.

  1. Angulo-Ibáñez, Quiteria, et al. “Traditional braces of earth constructions.” Construction and Building Materials 30 (2012): 389-399. ↩︎
  2. Benson, Philip E., et al. “Fluorides for the prevention of early tooth decay (demineralised white lesions) during fixed brace treatment.” Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 12 (2013). ↩︎
  3. Brantley, William A., and Theodore Eliades. “Orthodontic materials: scientific and clinical aspects.” American journal of orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics 119.6 (2001): 672-673. ↩︎
  4. Dannan, A. “Periodontal tissue destruction caused by an elastic orthodontic spacer: a case report.” Nigerian Dental Journal 17.1 (2009). ↩︎
  5. Grajower, Rafael, Yuval Zuberi, and Israel Lewinstein. “Improving the fit of crowns with die spacers.” The Journal of prosthetic dentistry 61.5 (1989): 555-563. ↩︎

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