Spacers For Braces (Rubber & Metal): Do You Need Them?

Who would’ve thought rubber bands would be a crucial part of straightening teeth?

Regardless of what color braces you choose, how much they cost, and how much of a discount you might be able to get, these rubber bands will be a part of the process.

These rubber bands are more commonly known as spacers. And that’s the topic of this article.

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What Are Spacers?

Spacers (aka orthodontic separators) can be rubber bands or metal devices. Orthodontists place these between your molars during your second visit.

What Do Spacers Look Like?

As you may have picked up, spaces can be rubber bands, usually about a centimeter in diameter. Or they can be metal rings that go around molar.

Why Do You Need Spacers For Braces?

You can have anywhere between one and eight spacers placed. These spacers push the molars apart from each other. These spacers will stay in your mouth for about one or two weeks, enough time for the molars to become far enough apart. This allows the orthodontist to then place a tooth brace, molar band, or an expander.

You might be wondering, “Will I need spacers if I use something like Smile Direct invisible braces?” The simple answer to that is no. Clear aligners don’t involve spacers.

Spacers can either be rubber bands or metal rings that push the molars apart to provide more space for things like a tooth brace, molar band, or an expander.

How Are Separators Fitted?

Before placing the separators, the orthodontist will stretch them out. Then they will string floss through the spacer to help them put the spacer between the molars. It’s actually a pretty simple and quick process.

The fitting of spacers is usually pretty simple and quick that involves feeding the spacers in between the teeth.

Do Spacers Hurt More Than Braces?

The short answer is no, spacers don’t hurt more than braces. Although they’re different sensations, so it can be hard to compare the two.

While the orthodontist is placing the spacers, you’ll probably feel some pressure or like someone is pushing on your teeth (that’s because someone is pushing on your teeth). They need to squeeze in between your molars. Because of this, you may feel a pinch as the spacers can rub against the sensitive gum tissue. But after a minute or so, that sensation goes away.

After getting the spacers placed, it may feel like you have a piece of food stuck in between your back teeth. There may also be some soreness, but this should fade away after about 4-6 hours.
However, you’ll feel an aching that will usually get worse over the following day or two, but it will dissipate. Usually, Over-The-Counter pain medication will do the trick in helping you manage the pain.

Spacers do not hurt more than braces, but they still can cause discomfort and some pain.

Spacers For Braces Pictures

How To Manage Spacers Pain?

In order to manage the pain and discomfort caused by spacers, you can use OTC pain meds (like Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen), but you can also alter your diet.

For the most part, you can continue eating most of what you probably ate before having spacers. But you may want to eat softer foods (like smoothies, soup, and yogurt) and avoid crunchy and chewy foods, like candy or steak.

You can manage spacer pain with OTC pain meds and eating softer foods.

Spacers For Braces Fell Out – What To Do?

There is a possibility that your spacers could fall out, especially if you continue to eat sticky, hard, and chewy foods. So what do you do if they fall out?

The first thing you should do is contact your orthodontist because they will need to be refitted to your teeth. If you don’t have them refitted, your molars won’t be aligned like should be, and it could have a negative effect on the entire teeth-straightening process.

If not all of your spacers have fallen out, you can keep brushing and rinsing as you normally would, but you should not floss. This could dislodge the other spacers.

If your spacer(s) has fallen out, you should contact your orthodontist to get it refitted.


  • Spacers are either rubber bands or metal rings that go in between or surround the molars
  • Spacers push the molars apart from each other to allow more space for a tooth brace, molar band, or an expander
  • The process of fitting spacers is simple and quick and involves feeding the spacers in between the teeth with floss
  • Spacers don’t hurt more than braces, but they may cause discomfort and pain
  • You can manage the pain of having spacers with OTC pain meds and eating softer foods
  • If your spacer falls out, you should contact your orthodontist right away to get it refitted

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