Many orthodontists will use bands on the back molar teeth to provide additional support and to allow for different attachments. The bands are essentially metal rings that completely surround the teeth. Since most people's teeth do not have spaces between them, it would be nearly impossible or very difficult to place bands without spaces. It would also likely be painful for the patient. Therefore, one of the first steps in the process of placing braces is the separator, or "spacers" appointment. The appointment is needed a week prior to placing bands in order to provide room between the teeth.
Separators are small elastics (rubber bands) that are first stretched out with a special separator instrument. Then, they are simply flossed into the contact where space is needed. While the separator is being placed, the patient may feel slight pressure or a "pushing" sensation - this is due to the pressure needed to allow the rubber band to squeeze through the contact of the teeth. Sometimes, as the separator begins to touch the gum tissue, a "pinch" feeling may be noticed. This sharp feeling will usually go away within a minute or two.
Once the separators are in place, the patient will notice that they feel as though a piece of food is caught between their teeth. Usually within 4-6 hours after placement, the soreness from tooth pressure/movement will begin. The dull ache feeling will normally worsen over the next day or two, and will then subside. During those first couple of days, over the counter pain medication can be used to help with the pain. Ask the orthodontist for their recommendation regarding pain control.