Girl with orthodontic spacers

Your Guide to Orthodontic Spacers

Orthodontic spacers aren’t talked about much, yet they’re one of the most commonly used orthodontic appliances with braces!

Some patients may require orthodontic spacers to create the necessary room between the teeth for upcoming treatment. Sometimes spacers are used by themselves to upright a molar. 

So what’s the deal with orthodontic spacers? What are they? How do they work? Do they hurt? Here’s everything you need to know about orthodontic spacers to prepare for your smile journey.


What are orthodontic spacers, and how do they work?

An orthodontic spacer is a tiny elastic band or metal spring with an important role. Teeth spacers for adults, teens, and kids serve as a wedge between two teeth, to push the teeth far enough apart for a molar band to be placed on the tooth.

Orthodontic spacers are used for patients who don’t have enough space between their back teeth for an orthodontic band to be placed. The molar bands that require space in the back teeth are metal bands that essentially anchor braces or appliances in place.

If the teeth are too close to each other, these molar bands won’t fit. That’s when orthodontic spacers come to the rescue. 

With elastic spacers, the spacer is squeezed between the teeth, then it stretches out (as elastics do) to recover its original size. This causes the teeth to separate from each other, leaving a necessary gap.

Metal spacers typically have a spring in them. Once the spacer is placed, the spring widens and creates a gap between the teeth.


What is the process for getting spacers?

If you need spacers, an orthodontic assistant will place these between your teeth at your appointment. They’ll use a special tool to insert the orthodontic spacer between the back teeth, and you may keep these in place anywhere from 7 to 10 days.

At your next appointment, your orthodontist will check to make sure that enough space was created between the teeth, then remove the spacers and clean the teeth to prepare them for your braces. 

The molar bands are then placed around the teeth and secured with adhesive glue. Finally, you can have your braces placed!


Do spacers hurt more than braces?

The word “hurt” is misleading. Braces don’t hurt, they just cause some minor soreness as your teeth and gums adjust to the new support of your brackets and wires. At no point in your treatment should you be clutching your mouth in pain. 

Orthodontic spacers give you a taste of how your smile journey will feel. But because tooth movement will occur with all of your teeth now instead of creating some space between two, your smile’s gentle journey can cause a little more tenderness than spacers. 


Spacers for Braces: Pain Relief

When you leave your first appointment with spacers, you may experience some minor discomfort and tenderness around your back teeth. You can take some Tylenol®  or Motrin® to alleviate the soreness, or use some Orajel™ on the gums around your molars to numb the area! 


Can I eat normally with orthodontic spacers?

For the most part, yes! But it’s best to avoid certain foods that are especially sticky or chewy, and try to take a break from chewing gum. Gum and sticky foods can pull your spacers out of place, require us to re-insert the spacers, and could postpone the start of your orthodontic treatment by a week or so.


Do you need orthodontic spacers with Invisalign?

Clear aligner treatment such as Invisalign or our very own SO Clear Aligners, involves the use of clear plastic trays to encourage healthy tooth movement. So no orthodontic spacers are typically needed to prepare room for orthodontic bands to hold your braces archwire.


Still have questions about orthodontic spacers?

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions! The cost of orthodontic spacers will be included in your treatment costs. We’re proud to offer affordable, interest-free financing to help you cover the cost of treatment. 

At your first visit to one of our offices in Warner Robins or Macon, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about what to expect with spacers and what to expect throughout the rest of your treatment. 

Ready to get started? Request a complimentary consultation for you or your child today!

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