During your orthodontic treatment, it may surprise you to learn that braces and aligners are not the only appliances you will need. Teeth spacers, which are bands that aid the process of correcting gaps and alignment issues, may be required as well.
To prepare for this aspect of your treatment, review this guide to teeth spacers which includes, how they help your treatment, and why you may need them.
Want to find out if you or your child needs braces? Visit Reese Orthodontics in Charleston, SC for leading orthodontic care.
What are Teeth Spacers?
Teeth spacers can be made of metal or elastic. In either case, they are round bands placed between teeth to aid in moving them apart. Essentially, they create space to make the job of your braces easier. This is why orthodontists refer to them as “first-phase” treatment, applied before the patient is ready for braces.
The purpose of using teeth spacers is to begin the alignment process before making the more specific corrective changes of using braces. Stubborn molars especially may need metal spacers.
When teeth are too close together, it can not only impede cleaning and create a crowded look, but it can make braces necessary. Correcting this spacing issue is often the first step in your treatment before receiving braces.
What to Expect from Your First Appointment
When spacers are inserted, which is usually about a week before you begin braces, your orthodontist will use small tools to stretch the bands and then push them in between the teeth. Usually, the back molars are most in need of spacers.
A feeling of pressure or pinching is common, similar to having something hard stuck between your teeth. The feeling will not go away completely but fortunately, spacers are a short-term solution in most cases. Once braces or Invisalign treatment begins, the spacers are removed.
Most patients report the most discomfort in the first 48 hours after receiving their spacers, some can eat normally and others always feel some discomfort. It’s different for everyone.
How to Care for Spacers
Like any orthodontic appliance, spacers have special care instructions to follow. For the first two days, you can reduce the discomfort by drinking cold things to numb your gums around the affected area. Over-the-counter pain medicines can also temporarily reduce the pain.
If you still experience pain, you can rinse with warm saltwater to relieve some pain and swelling. Mix a teaspoon of salt in a normal glass of water and rinse around the affected area.
Foods to Avoid with Spacers
For the rest of the time that you wear spacers, it’s best to eat soft foods that are easy to chew. Sticky or chewy foods can dislodge spacers and cause discomfort, so it’s best to hold off while wearing your spacers. Foods to avoid include:
- Chewing gum
- Toffee, caramel, and gummies
- Bagels and other tough bread like baguettes
- Steak or other chewy meats
Since it’s generally recommended to refrain from these foods while wearing braces as well, this diet will help you prepare for the long treatment plan ahead of you.
Brushing and Flossing with Spacers
Brushing and flossing are important when you have spacers, but you must consider how spacers affect your technique. The first step to brushing is to rinse your mouth with water and address the back teeth gently.
As for flossing, take as much care as you usually do to floss on all sides of your teeth. However, do not try to floss the teeth that have spacers around them. This can not only be painful, but you can accidentally pop out your spacers.
If a spacer does become dislodged for any reason, contact your orthodontist. Depending on your treatment progress, your doctor may schedule an appointment for you to receive replacement spacers or they may forgo replacements and wait until you have your first braces appointment.
Choose Reese Orthodontics
If you’re an adult who is considering braces, you need professional advice on your treatment and payment options. For orthodontic treatments in Charleston, SC, Reese Orthodontics offers the latest technology and treatment plans. Our advanced and comfortable orthodontic treatments can be customized to suit your needs. A consultation with Reese Orthodontics includes scans, a comprehensive exam, and a conversation with the orthodontist to discover which treatment options are right for you.
Schedule an appointment with us today to stay ahead of your oral health and receive the best possible treatment in your area.