The news of getting braces is in itself a nerve-racking one. On top of that, being told that one would need spacers for braces is more aggravating. However, one has nothing to worry about. Spacers are nothing but like a prenuptial to getting braces.
Still, a lot of questions may hover in mind about spacers. This article will provide the readers with answers to all those questions.
What Actually Spacers Are?
Spacers, or the ‘Orthodontic Separators’ are nothing but elastic rings. They are donut shaped and generally have a diameter of about a centimetre.
Although hearing about the size, one might think that the process will be really painful, but in most cases, it is not, as they are inserted parallel between the back three teeth.
The fun part is that one can also choose the color of the spacers that one is going to get.
Why Would One Need Spacers?
As the name suggests, spacers are used to create space between the molars for proper fitting of the braces.
It is very important that there is enough space between the molars before putting braces, as the braces may move the back teeth more cozily against each other.
This, in turn, can cause bite problems along with immense discomfort. The spacers are, therefore, used to create proper space between the back three teeth so that the braces can do their job effectively without causing any uneasiness.
What is the Process of Fitting the Spacers?
Generally, during the first appointment, the dentist will let the patient know whether one will need the spacers or not.
If one needs them, the process that will be followed can be a little overwhelming. The number of spacers for braces that is needed depends on the condition of the teeth. The number can vary from one to twelve.
The process of fitting the spacers starts with string flossing the spacers. Next, the dentist stretches the rubber spacers until they are thin enough to be inserted.
The spacer is then put into place and released after it settles down in its proper position.
Ideally, the spacers are fitted in a such a way that the bottom of the spacers are just above the gum line, and the upper part of the spacer is as the same level, as the lowest point of the crowns of each neighboring tooth.
While the process of fitting the spacers is not painful, the patient may feel uncomfortable afterward which can also last for several days.
Also, the period for which the spacers are to be left depending on the condition of the teeth. It is between one to two weeks, but in some special cases, the spacers are left even after the braces are fitted. In these cases, instead of rubber spacers, metal spacers are used.
Types of Spacers
There are only two types of spacers that are used. First is the rubber one and the second is the metal one.
- Rubber Spacers
- Metal Spacers
Rubber spacers are used more commonly and are less painful. The process of inserting the rubber spacers is much easier and painless.
Also, it causes much less discomfort afterward when compared to metal spacers. They are only kept for a week or two.
Metal spacers are made of metal wires and used in cases where the doctor feels that the spacers are needed for the fitting of the braces.
Metal spacers are a whole lot painful and are kept for a long period. Metal spacers are used in very rare cases.
Can Spacers be Painful?
The pain from spacers depends on a lot from person to person. As mentioned earlier, although the very process of fitting the spacers is almost painless, the pain after that varies.
Factors like the space between the molars of the person, their own level of pain tolerance, etc. all play an important role in determining the amount of pain that follows.
Initially, after the process of fitting the spacers, there is a mild pain which occurs from all the pressure exerted on teeth while fitting.
It is also accompanied by a feeling of something being stuck between the teeth. The next day after the fitting usually accompanies a lot of discomfort and pain.
From the third day, the pain lessens and mostly it disappears by the end of a week.
Despite this, some patients continue to feel the pain even after a week. This commonly happens when there is very little space between the teeth and, therefore, the spacers have more work to do.
In such cases, the patient may take painkillers like Naproxen, Ibuprofen, and Acetaminophen.
However, it is always advisable to consult the doctor and before taking the medicines.
Spacers generally do not require any change in normal lifestyle, but few things should be kept in mind to make the process less uncomfortable.
Following are some suggestions that should be followed to avoid complications:
- Notice when Chewing Foods
- Avoid any Sticky Foods
- Never Floss your Teeth
While wearing spacers, one should be careful while chewing the food. It is advisable to avoid crunchy foods like nuts, popcorn, etc. which requires extra chewing.
Chewing this kind of food puts extra pressure on the teeth which in turn can increase the pain. Instead, one should go for soft foods which require less chewing.
At the same time, sticky foods like candy, chewing gum, caramel are also to be avoided, since they can get stuck to the spacer and dislodge them from their places.
Falling off the spacers prematurely can result in many complications.
Flossing should also be avoided as it can also cause premature dislodging of the spacers.
Removal of Spacers
The process of removal of spacers is very easy and quick. In many cases, the spacers fall out themselves after a week, which means they have done their work properly.
In case this does not happen, the dentist will simply remove them and generally it is followed by fitting of a metal orthodontic band.
In some cases, the doctor keeps the rubber spacers instead of using metal bands and just readjusts them a bit before fitting the braces.
Also if the patient is having any kind of doubts, it is always better to clear those with the orthodontist beforehand and be prepared for the process mentally.