What are “seps,” separators, or spacers?

Seps separator spacer
What are “seps,” separators, or spacers?
August 1, 2022

We often get asked what “seps,” “separators,” or “spacers” are because people have heard horror stories from their friends. Separators are little rubber bands that we place between your back molars, usually 1-2 weeks before you start orthodontic treatment with some type of appliance, like an expander or a Herbst. They slowly make a tiny space between the teeth so that the band component of the appliance can slide easily around your tooth like a ring sliding onto a finger. You will feel a little tightness when they are placed, but they become passive once the space has been made, typically in 1-2 days. A good analogy is it will feel like you have a piece of meat caught between your back teeth :P.

Check out our video on Tik Tok or Instagram (@bestorthonc) to watch how seps are placed in one of our patients!

In the past, every braces patient would need seps before starting treatment, and some orthodontists still follow this protocol. However, we use regular brackets (the little metal squares) on molars so if you do not need an appliance, you will not need seps! This means you get to avoid that little bit of discomfort, and if everything else is good on the day you come in for your consult, you can get started with your braces the same day! You don’t need to come back in 1-2 weeks after the separators have done their work.

How to care for your seps, separators, or spacers:

If you do need separators, you will need to keep a few things in mind.

  1. Do not pick at the separator or floss between the teeth where it is placed.
  2. Avoid sticky foods like gum or candy since they can dislodge the sep.
  3. Continue to brush your teeth well, including the area with the separator.
  4. If it falls out, don’t worry. Call us during business hours and we will find a time to have it replaced, if needed!


Seps / separators / spacers are used to help us fit orthodontic appliances around the back teeth. They stay in for 1-2 weeks and can cause a little soreness, but overall they’re super easy! Let us know if you have any further questions by texting us at 704-782-5146, emailing us at office@bestorthonc.com, sending us a message on social media @bestorthonc, or commenting below!