People who contemplate getting braces to align their teeth must know that they will have first to wear spacers for braces. These dental devices, also known as orthodontic separators, are actually small round elastic rings that the orthodontist will fix between molars before installing the braces. The spacers for braces will thus create the space necessary for a correct installation of braces. Read on to learn more about the spacers for braces.
Why do you need spacers for braces?
This section will explore the importance of spacers for braces, and why you will need them.
Separators, more commonly known as spacers, are used to create a space between the teeth for attaching the molar band prior to application of braces.
There are two types of separators used in order to help facilitate the usage of an orthodontic band:
- rubber separators;
- metal separators;
Rubber spacers are:
- most commonly used.
- placed between teeth using floss and a little force.
- stretched around the contact areas of the tooth.
- returns to its original shape and pushes the teeth to create space.
- are typically used only when a rubber separator is not doing the trick. This usually happens when the contact between teeth is so tight that a rubber spacer just will not fit.
How are spacers for braces fitted?
The procedure of fitting the spacers for braces is quiet simple and painless. The orthodontist will simply stretch the spacers, and then fit them between the patient’s molars. In orthodontics, this procedure is referred to as flossing. As the name says it, the process is pretty much similar to the regular flossing that is part of the regular oral hygiene routine.
How long do you have to wear spacers for braces?
Orthodontists will usually advise patients to wear the rubber spacers 1 or 2 weeks prior to braces. As teeth move, it is possible that the spacers fall out before the second week. This usually means that the spacers did the job and there is enough space for braces between molars. However, some specialists may recommend patients to continue to wear the spacers for a while during the braces treatment.
What do you do if one of your spacers falls out?
If a patient has separators, they cannot floss around them or pick at them. It is also normal that when wearing a rubber separator, you can feel it when you bite. It is better to leave the spacer in place until the next orthodontic appointment.
Should the separator come out, it typically means that an adequate space has been formed as expected. If this should happen, give your orthodontist a call and see if they want to put it back in or not.
What are the orthodontic bands?
Orthodontic bands are metal devices that replace the spacers. They are typically implemented in the posterior section of the mouth, and kept in its place by a dental cement adhesive.
Since there are different sizes of teeth, there will also be different sizes of bands. The orthodontist will try out varying sizes to find which one fits perfectly. Once the size is figured out, orthodontic cement is used inside of the band to keep it on the tooth. Excess cement will be scraped off before it has a chance to set. After a few minutes, the cement is hardened and the rest of the appointment can go on.
Orthodontic bands are able to withstand the forces of chewing much better than a bonded bracket located on posterior teeth. Many orthodontists will begin treatment by using bonded brackets placed onto the molars.
Are Separators Necessary for Primary (Baby) Teeth?
No, not always. The contact point between the primary teeth can vary greatly from patient to patient. An orthodontist can attempt to see if the band will adhere to the primary tooth before adding the separator. Sometimes, though, the contact is tight enough to require the spacer. It all just comes down to the tightness of the contact.
Side effects and pain management tips
Although the spacers for braces are usually painless, some patients may experience annoying side-effects, such as: pain, sensitivity, or sore jaw. These side-effects are usually felt for 2 or 3 days after having the spacers fit. You can manage pain with counter analgesic medication, or with home-remedies, such as cold water, or ice applied locally. Do not chew hard food, and do not floss while wearing the spaces.
So, what are orthodontic bands, separators and spacers for braces? They are all dental tools used to help separate and otherwise prepare the teeth for braces. Each one serves its own role in creating adequate space. These tools are not always implemented on baby teeth—they are usually used on permanent teeth that need realignment.
Have you ever had to use spacers or orthodontic bands? How did it feel? Let us know in the “Comments” section!