What are Spacers for Braces?
Also known as “orthodontic expanders,” spacers for braces are small metal or elastic bands that fit between the back molars. Similar to dental floss, the bands are small enough to fit comfortably into the existing space while applying pressure to the teeth. The spacers are placed approximately one week before your appointment for installing your braces.
Why are Spacers Necessary?
Spacers are necessary to create a space that is big enough to accommodate the bands of your braces. If the expanders are not used, Dr. Kadan will not be able to place the bands around your back teeth. If an orthodontist tries to fit the bands without adequate space, you will experience a great deal of discomfort, and the bands will not fit properly. You may develop cavities due to food being trapped under the band or between the band and gum line.
How are Spacers Fitted?
The spacer is stretched to minimize the diameter so that it fits easily between the teeth. Dr. Kadan then slides the spacer between the teeth to the proper position and releases the tension.
Are Spacers Painful?
You may experience a momentary pinch as the spacer comes into contact with the gum, but this only lasts a few seconds. You may also have some soreness related to the pressure being applied to the teeth. The discomfort usually lasts only 24 to 48 hours. Patients who have molars that are more tightly positioned may have discomfort for a longer time than those who have some degree of spacing between their teeth.
How is Discomfort Managed?
Over-the-counter pain medications are adequate for alleviating any discomfort that is caused by the orthodontic spacers. We also recommend that you modify your diet when you are wearing spacers for braces. You should not clench your teeth or eat foods that require hard biting or strong chewing. The best option is to eat soft foods and avoid hard or chewy foods.
Is Special Care Needed When Wearing Spacers?
Flossing and brushing too aggressively, or eating foods traditionally avoided during orthodontic treatment (such as sticky candies) may cause the expanders to dislodge. If this occurs, you will need to have the spacer replaced, and you may need to wear the spacers for braces longer than expected.
Will Spacers Be Replaced by Bands?
In most cases, the orthodontic expanders are removed when the bands are installed which is usually one week after the time when the spacers for braces are placed between your teeth.
How are Spacers Removed?
An expander may naturally fall out when the desired space is reached. If this occurs, contact our office to schedule a time when Dr. Kadan can evaluate the progress and possibly insert a new spacer. The spacers are easy to remove, especially since the space between the teeth is larger than when the expanders were inserted.