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What are Orthodontic Spacers?

Orthodontic spacers are small appliances that are used to create space between the teeth. They are also called as orthodontic separators. They are used to make a gap between molars so that braces can be installed properly. The spacers are usually circular rubber bands that are inserted between the molars of upper and lower arch. The gap is created within a period of one or two weeks. In some cases, metal rings can be used instead of rubber bands.

Separators can induce pain in most of the patients. Usually the pain is mild in the first few hours and the pain worsens in the next few days. This pain is because of the tooth movement. In some people, the contacts between the teeth can be extremely tight and it might be quite difficult to introduce metal bands in between the teeth. If the pain becomes excruciating, you can consume painkillers prescribed by your dentist. You can have a short term pain relief if you have some cold drinks or ice-creams. Some patients have reported to have irritation in the gums due to orthodontic separators and bleeding and swollen gums as well. Some patients have described it to be as though some food has got caught between the teeth. The patients are asked by the dentist not to remove the separators by themselves in between the specified time period. When the tooth moves into a new position the spacers themselves might get dislodged and fall out.

There are special orthodontic instruments available for the placement of the separators between the teeth. These instruments stretch the rubber band and insert them into the gap between the teeth. Depending upon tightness of the contact, pain may vary from individual to individual. Those individuals with a lot of crowding can have more pain while spacer insertion.

Generally, the spacers are removed just before the insertion of metal bands. This is to ensure that the gap remains as it is during the placement of the bands. In people where sufficient gap has been created already, may find their spacers coming out every now and then. There is no reason to worry in such cases as it is quite normal. In some difficult cases, there may be a need to keep two or more spacers to create the desired space.

When the spacers are there in between your teeth you need to follow certain dietary restrictions like you should not have sticky food like chewing gums. Always go for soft food which can be swallowed without much of chewing. Try to divide the food into small bits so that chewing becomes little more convenient and swift. Abstain from use of toothpicks as this may cause the spacers to pop out when used in teeth with spacers. If you try to insert the toothpick in teeth other than those having spacers, you may experience pain as there is very little space to accommodate the head of the toothpick. One should not floss while wearing orthodontic spacers as this might end up in the dislodgement of the spacers.

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