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How to Make Spacers Stop Hurting

By Kat Black ; Updated July 27, 2017

To help guide patients’ teeth into their correct positions, orthodontists use a variety of devices including expanders, headgear, retainers and braces. Before an orthodontist can attach the braces, however, some patients require spacers or separators. Orthodontists use dental floss to insert these rubber, plastic or metal objects between two back teeth. In response to the pressure from the spacers, teeth move slightly, making room for the orthodontic bands that wrap around the back teeth to support the braces. Some people who get spacers feel like there is food trapped between their teeth for a few hours. Others experience pain or soreness, especially the day after getting their spacers.

  1. Take an over-the-counter pain reliever such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Follow the dosage instructions on your bottle until your pain reaches acceptable levels.

  2. Eat softer foods. If you experience soreness or pain from your spacers, chewing can be a chore. Choose soft foods such as yogurt, pudding, applesauce and soup that require little or no chewing until your pain subsides. For most individuals with spacers, pain relievers and dietary changes will stop the pain.

  3. Apply an over-the-counter dental anesthetic, following your product's instructions. Anesthetics numb the affected area so that it does not hurt.

  4. Apply ice packs for 15 minutes to the side of the face that hurts. Place a towel or wash cloth between the ice pack and your skin to protect your skin.

  5. Warnings

    Consult your orthodontist if you have severe pain that lasts for more than three days.

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