Spacers for Braces | Orthodontic Separators for Teeth

Last updated on August 21st, 2019

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Braces should need a minimal introduction. They are the amongst the most common and well-known orthodontic appliances in dentistry.

what are spacers for bracesTheir main role is to move misaligned teeth or teeth that have gaps into a better position. By doing this, they increase both the function and appearance of the teeth and mouth. But they can’t always do this on their own.

Sometimes another tool is needed: spacers for braces.

This article will look at what spacers for braces(separators) are, and why you might need them before you get braces.

What are Spacers for Teeth and What They Do?

spacers for braces



Spacers are rubber bands designed to go around your molars, the teeth at the back of your jaw. They’re put in place by an orthodontist or dentist and are used to create space in between the teeth — hence the name, “spacer”.

Spacers are placed about a week before braces or orthodontic expanders being placed. They’re often a significant step in the process. Without spacers, some people simply couldn’t have orthodontic work done without some sort of surgical intervention.

Why is it recommended to use spacers before braces?

Some types of braces, along with an appliance known as an “expander”, need to be attached to the rear molar to work correctly. This is done with a metal ring called a molar band. Since molar teeth naturally sit very close together, few people have enough space between their molars for these bands to sit properly. By creating space with rubber orthodontic spacers, an orthodontist has enough room to comfortably fit the molar band and get the most out of the procedure.

How the Procedure of Getting Spacers for Braces Looks Like?

As we said before, spacers are placed in the mouth about a week before getting orthodontics. Some patients require as little as 3 days with spacers; others might even need to wear them for the entire orthodontic treatment.

Let’s take a closer look on the procedure:

  • The first appointment is always a consultation. Your dentist or orthodontist will advise you on what’s about to happen and what you will experience.
  • The second visit to the clinic is the fitting appointment. To begin, the teeth that will receive the spacers are flossed and cleaned. The orthodontist will also string floss through the rubber. Since you can’t floss teeth that have spacers between them, this will keep your teeth clean in the meantime.
  • Once the teeth are ready, the rubber is stretched thin and slid around the molar. The bottom of the rubber band sits just over the gum line, and the top sits just below the lowest cusp of the tooth’s crown.

Here is excellent video explanation:

Video credit: Browning Orthodontics

How many spacers are placed will depend on a few things, such as existing space between molars and overall space between teeth. A patient might receive as few as one and as many as twelve spacers.

READ MORE: Loose Tooth? 10 Best Ways to Save it From Falling Out!

For cases with particularly bad crowding, the orthodontist may choose to use metal spacers instead of rubber spacers.

metal spacers for bracesMetal spacers are also used when the orthodontist decides the patient needs to wear spacers for the entire orthodontic treatment period. These metal spacers sometimes have keys or screws that allow the dentist to tight them over time.

How to Relief Pain from Spacers for Braces

Spacers can and will cause some level of discomfort in most wearers. For some patients, this discomfort is immediate. This is especially true when the teeth are very close together, or when you get metal spacers. For other patients, the discomfort only begins after a few days.

READ MORE: 10 Ways to Get Rid of Toothache at Night

Over the counter pain, medication will treat the discomfort caused by spacers. The pain is unlikely ever to be severe enough to prescribe stronger painkillers.

To prevent additional pain and discomfort while the spacers are in place, avoid hard, crunchy foods. Cold foods can relieve some of the discomfort, although this is obviously not recommended for patients with tooth sensitivity.

Can I change my mind about braces after I got my spacers in?

If you end up choosing not to get braces after the spacers are in, you can get the spacers removed. If the spacers have created a gap, the space will close over time.

And what about brushing?

Teeth can be brushed generally with spacers, but as stated above, you cannot floss teeth with spacers.

READ MORE: The 5 Best Mouth Guards for Teeth Grinding

It’s important not to pick the spacers and make them fall out prematurely. Even if they don’t come out, picking at them will cause irritation and make them even more uncomfortable.

Spacers will come out in a number of ways. Sometimes they’re left in until they fall out on their own, which means there’s enough of a gap between the teeth. Often they’re taken out by the orthodontist the day you go for the first braces fitting.

Why do dental spacers hurt so much?

The discomfort caused by orthodontic spacers is merely the sensation of the teeth being pushed apart. As the tooth shifts, it also shifts the tooth root, the gum, and the sensitive tissues that connect them all together.

It is especially noticeable when biting on something hard with the molars while the spacers are in place. The extra pressure on the tender soft tissue results in pain.

Luckily the pain subsides fairly quickly. If there is still noticeable pain a week after the spacers are removed, consult your dentist.


Spacers for braces are often a necessary step in orthodontic treatment. They create vital space between the rear molars that allow bracers and expanders to attach to the teeth properly. With this firm anchor point in place, patients get the best results from their orthodontic treatment. So, spacers are a necessary that you need to tolerate for a few days to get great long-term results.

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