Article by Dr. Leaver & Dr. Gardner
If you are currently wearing braces, you already know that orthodontic treatment can come with its fair share of hurdles to overcome. From the food restrictions to broken brackets and wires that poke at the inside of your mouth, braces take some getting used to. Rubber bands are another one of those things that can be a challenge during your treatment, but like everything else associated with braces, they are an important part of the process to give you beautifully straight teeth!
Most of our patients at Leaver & Gardner Orthodontics will need to wear rubber bands at some point during their orthodontic treatment in order to correct the alignment of their bite, reduce an over- or underbite, and in some cases, open or close spaces. Wearing these elastics as Dr. Leaver and Dr. Gardner recommend will help move your teeth into new and improved positions, giving you a healthy, functional smile, and improving your overall oral health.
While all these little annoyances are absolutely worth the end result, we know it can be frustrating, especially if you don’t understand why you’re being asked to do something like wear rubber bands with your braces. We want all of our patients to feel informed about and empowered by their orthodontic treatment! Whether you’ve been asked to wear elastics full-time or part-time, we want to help you understand why we use rubber bands with braces, how they work, and how they will benefit your smile. Keep reading below to learn more!
The role of rubber bands in orthodontics
Traditional braces are one of the most effective ways of aligning teeth and creating straighter smiles. Once the braces have been glued to the teeth, they’ll begin to move the teeth thanks to the forces that are produced by the set of wires that span from tooth to tooth. This can successfully align the upper and lower sets of teeth separately, but something must be connected between the arches to actually correct the bite. While there are several options available for accomplishing this, such as headgear, springs, other orthodontic appliances, etc., the most common method is rubber bands, also known as elastics.
Elastics are a preferred method for a number of reasons. They are far less noticeable than other options like headgear, and tooth-colored elastics in particular blend in nicely with your natural smile. That said, they can also be personalized by choosing from a range of colors for patients who like to show off their personality! Elastics are easy to remove and replace, an important feature since you’ll need to do both frequently. The stretchy, flexible nature of rubber bands also allows you to maintain a full range of motion when engaging in everyday activities like talking, yawning, and other jaw functions. This facilitates easier eating and brushing. Rubber bands are extremely versatile and can be used to correct most types of bite problems, including overbites, underbites, open bites, and crossbites. Elastics are also much more cost effective than other options available for bite correction.
The different types of orthodontic elastics
There are two types of orthodontic elastics, ligatures and rubber bands. Ligatures are smaller and fit around the brackets to help the archwire retain its position there. Ligatures will help to pull or push your teeth in the direction that is required by the customized treatment plan created by one of our doctors for you.
The larger form of elastics are simply referred to as rubber bands. These can be placed in several different configurations to match the tensile force requirements of your mouth, and are used to apply pressure on the jaw, assisting it in achieving the proper alignment for your bite. The most common configurations include the top-to-bottom and inter-arch configurations.
Both types of elastics are available in various colors.
How orthodontic rubber bands work
While ligatures, archwires, and brackets are used to move the teeth along the gumline, rubber bands help pull the jaw backward or forwards so that your bottom and top rows of teeth line up correctly. The process begins when a bracket with a hook is placed along the right and left sides of your bottom and top teeth. Rubber band are then attached to these hooks on each side of the mouth. The amount of tensile force required to correct your issue will determine the angle at which these bands are placed. This ultimately improves your smile by fitting your teeth together more comfortably. Bands also play an essential role in speeding up the orthodontic process, although this relies entirely on you wearing your rubber bands precisely as directed by Dr. Leaver or Dr. Gardner.
How to use your rubber bands correctly
In order to ensure your orthodontic treatment proceeds on schedule, it’s imperative that you follow instructions carefully when wearing rubber bands. This will provide you with optimal results and help you avoid any prolonging of the treatment process.
For maximum effectiveness, most patients will be advised to wear their rubber bands 24/7, taking them out only to brush, floss, put new bands in, and sometimes to eat. This will, of course, will depend on each individual case. Taking bands off while you are sleeping is not recommended, and you will hear us warn against doubling up on bands. Though many patients believe it will speed treatment up, it actually slows things down by potentially damaging the roots.
It’s normal for your mouth, teeth, and jaws to be a little sore the first few days of wearing rubber bands. Stay the course and keep them in as directed! Wearing your elastics incorrectly – like putting them in for a while, taking them off for a while, then putting them back on, etc. – will not only make your teeth more resistant to moving successfully and slow down treatment progress, it can also keep your teeth constantly sore, since they never have the chance to get used to the rubber bands.
Each time you take a band out, you should discard it and put on a new one. Depending on your specific case, your daily activities, and the strength of the elastic, you may find yourself replacing bands multiple times each day. Make sure you have your pack of bands on you at all times!
Keeping your braces treatment on track with Leaver & Gardner Orthodontics
Wearing rubber bands with your braces is an important part of your treatment with Leaver & Gardner Orthodontics. They play an essential role in moving your jaw and teeth into the correct alignment necessary to achieve optimal results. Dr. Leaver, Dr. Gardner, and the rest of our skilled staff are committed to helping you through the orthodontic process. We strive to make it as rewarding an experience as possible! If the time has come for you to wear rubber bands with your braces, our team is here to help you with any questions or concerns you have, or to simply provide some extra encouragement if needed. Remember, this part of your orthodontic journey is only temporary. Before you know it, you’ll have a beautifully aligned and fully functional smile that will last you a lifetime!