Aim: To examine two types of orthodontic separators, focusing on the separating effect and
patients’ perception of pain and discomfort. Methods: The separators tested were springtype
and elastomeric separators. Thirty teenagers participated, and all were scheduled for
treatment with a fixed orthodontic appliance. Two spring-type and two elastomeric separators
were placed alternately in the left or the right quadrant. After a separation period of 5
days, the amount of separation was measured with a leaf gauge. Nine questionnaires with
visual analogue scales and questions with fixed answers were used to register the patient
perceptions. Results: The mean separation was 0.3 mm for the spring-type and 0.4 mm for
the elastomeric separators (P .05). The springs were considered less painful than the elastomerics,
but the difference was not statistically significant. For both separators, the pain
was worst at day 2 and subsided almost completely by day 5. Due to pain, 14 of the 30
patients changed their food habits, and 13 took analgesics. Conclusions: The separation
effect of the two separators was considered clinically equivalent and since pain of moderate
intensity occurs during the separation period, analgesics and soft food can be recommended.
World J Orthod 2004;5:172–176.