Before any bands (a kind af brace that goes all the way around your tooth) is placed, there needs to be enough room so that 1) it doesn't hurt when I put the band on, and 2) I can get the band on your tooth in the correct position.
The image to the right shows bands on the first molar teeth. The inside surface of the band has a "cleat" welded to it for attaching rubber bands. Most cases do not need the cleats and I do not include them on the bands if they are not necessary.
In general, they are placed about 1 week before the bands are to be put on. When they are first placed, it feels as if there is something stuck between your teeth, like popcorn or a piece of meat. This feeling lasts for an hour or so. When the teeth move from the spacers (about 6-10 hours after they are placed), some people experience some discomfort in the teeth that are moving, and some people also feel that the gums are irritated in these areas. You may also feel the spacers more on one side, or more on the top than the bottom (or vice versa) -- it just depends on how tight the teeth are together and how close the spacers are to your gums. You may also find that you bite against one or more of the spacers -- this is normal.
Many people are not bothered by the spacers at all, while others find them painful. If you do experience any discomfort, relief usually comes from taking the same medication that you use for headache pain in the same dosage.
I will instruct you about what to do if any spacers fall out before the visit that the bands are placed. If any do fall out, please remember how many fall out. I need to account for all of them before the braces are placed to ensure that none have become lodged in your gums.