Orthodontic Separators are little, thick, and circular elastic bands. They are used to “Separate” two teeth from each other. When the rubber bands are stretched, they become thinner and we can easily floss them in between two teeth. As the elastic band attempts to retake its original shape and thickness it slowly pushes the two teeth apart. The separation between he two teeth is very minimal, but it is just enough for the purpose that is serves.
What is the purpose?
To separate two teeth so that a band can be placed on a tooth. A band is an orthodontic appliance that surrounds the entire tooth. It aids in the movement of the teeth. In our practice, bands are primarily used in conjunction with appliances such as expanders.
At Lifetime Orthodontics, you will typically have a separator placed only if an appliance that has a band is required. These appliances may include:
- Frozat (lower expander)
- E-Arch (lower expander)
- Lower lingual holding arch
To avoid any gooey impression, we use our scanner to make a model of your teeth. We send these models to a laboratory that specializes in making any of the aforementioned appliances. They will fit bands and create the appliance. When the appliance returns, we need to make sure that we can fit the bands of the appliance on the teeth that will be holding it in your mouth. That is why we will place separators around those teeth after we take your scan. It takes 1-2 weeks for the appliances to get back from the lab. Therefore, you will have the separators in for those 1-2 weeks until we take them out and place your appliance.
What do they feel like?
It feels like a piece of food is caught between your teeth. This quickly passes as the teeth move apart.
Do I have to change my diet?
You will want to stay away from sticky and chewy foods that may pull the separators out. Things like caramel, gum, and taffy will pull the separators out and we will not accomplish our mission.
Brushing and Flossing:
We want you to continue brushing as you normally would. Great oral hygiene is always priority number one! We also want you to continue to floss all areas EXCEPT the teeth that have the separators around them. Flossing these areas will either lodge the separators into the gums or pull them out prematurely. We want to avoid both of these outcomes!
What if my separator falls out?
Do not sweat it! This is not an emergency. We do, however, want you to call the office to notify us. If the separator has fallen out, then it has likely done its job of separating the teeth and it has become so loose that it just cannot hold in between the teeth any longer. No problem, mission accomplished! Still call the office as we may want to have you replace it if your appliance appointment is not within the next few days. To avoid an extra trip into the office, you can replace the separator on your own by following the instructions in this video: How To Replace an Orthodontic Separator
We will provide extra separators at your visit. You will just need to gather up two pieces of floss and follow along.
We want to save you a trip if possible but do not ever feel bad about contacting us! We are honored to be your guides along your smile journey. Reach out any time!
Gerald W. Wesley, DDS, MS