A common element of orthodontic treatment for many people is the rubber bands, also called elastics. In our last orthodontic article, we discussed answers to some common questions about orthodontics and in this article, we are going to focus on questions about rubber bands.
Why do I need rubber bands with my braces?
While creating your orthodontic treatment plan, we carefully map the movement of your teeth. The movement is achieved by using tiny, constant amounts of force which eventually produce the optimal alignment of your teeth and jaws. Much of the pressure is created by the archwires between the brackets.
Part of your treatment may require rubber bands that stretch between connection points on the upper and lower jaw or between teeth in the same jaw. Rubber bands may be necessary because they apply additional tension to one or more teeth so they can move in ways that braces alone would not force them to, while preventing other teeth from moving out of alignment. In addition to specific movement of individual teeth, they are often used to correct an overbite, underbite, or the midline.
How much do I need to wear them?
Usually, rubber bands need to be worn constantly, unless you are brushing and flossing, or putting new rubber bands in. The more you wear them, the quicker you will complete your treatment.
If you want your teeth to move even faster, try to wear the rubber bands while eating. It is fine to remove them for meals if you want, but the longest you should ever have them out of your mouth is a half hour. If you play sports that require a mouth guard, it’s okay to remove the rubber bands for a bit. Just be sure to put your rubber bands back in as soon as the mouth guard comes out.
Your teeth and bite only move under constant pressure, so it is important to follow instructions. If you wear the rubber bands less than required, your teeth and bite will not move as well. It could lengthen treatment time by weeks or months and could actually prevent the achievement of optimal results.
It’s a struggle to make my child wear the rubber bands. Can they choose not to wear them?
We would not include rubber bands as part of the treatment plan if they were unnecessary. Full cooperation with our instructions will help your child achieve the best results in the shortest amount of time.
There are many strategies to help your child comply with our instructions. Positive reinforcements such as charts, treats, and rewards are a great way to provide incentive. You know your child best and can devise a strategy to help them become willing participants in the process of creating a beautiful, healthy smile.
Will my treatment go faster if I use extra rubber bands?
Not at all. In fact, it could actually lengthen your treatment time. Since we provide rubber bands that create the exact amount of force necessary to move your teeth, wearing extra rubber bands puts the wrong amount of force on your teeth and may cause them to move incorrectly.
If you forget to wear them consistently, just develop strategies to help you remember in the future. Unfortunately, doubling up could cause your mouth to feel sore.
Are there different types of elastics?
There are actually two types of elastics used in orthodontic treatment. The first type is the removable rubber bands we have been discussing throughout this article that may be a part of your treatment plan. These are called inter-arch rubber bands and they attach to hooks that are connected to the brackets. Inter-arch rubber bands come in different sizes and each size exerts a different amount of force. If you run out between appointments, contact us to get a new supply so we can be sure that you get the right size.
The second type is called ligature elastics. They are wrapped around each bracket, to hold the archwire into place. You do not need to worry about remembering to use this type because they stay in place all the time. We remove and replace them whenever your braces are adjusted.
Can I pick the color?
Ligature elastics come in a wide variety of colors, and the color can be changed whenever we remove and replace them. You can get as creative as you want! If you want a more neutral look you can stick with grey or silver. Clear elastics are another option but are easily stained by what you eat and drink, including coffee, red wine, soda, and tea.
Do they hurt?
You may feel some soreness when you begin wearing rubber bands. It is normal and you should begin to feel better within a week. Be sure to wear them continually. Taking them out then putting them back in an attempt to let the discomfort subside will actually prolong the time you feel sore because your teeth and jaw will take much longer to adjust to the sensation. Wearing rubber bands intermittently will also prolong your treatment.
If you are uncomfortable, it may be helpful to go back to the soft foods diet for a few days. You can also drink smoothies. In addition to providing great nutrition without needing to chew, smoothies are cold, which will help soothe your mouth. If you want some tips for eating and a few good smoothie recipes, check out our blog on How to Eat with Braces.
Rubber bands are attached to hooks that are connected to the brackets. If the hooks bother your lips or cheeks at all, start using your dental wax again as long as you need it.
Can I still use invisible aligners if I need rubber bands?
You can. The rubber bands hook on buttons that are attached to your teeth. The buttons are similar in color to your teeth and adhere to your tooth close to the gumline, so they are less noticeable.
What if I am allergic to latex?
If you are allergic to latex, please let us know. We can provide rubber bands made out of a different material for you.
Rubber bands are an important part of your treatment and we want to help you transition into wearing them as smoothly as possible. If you need help remembering how to place them correctly, run out, or have questions about any aspect of your treatment please call, email, or stop by so we can help you. If we work together, your treatment will proceed quickly and efficiently to produce a beautiful, healthy smile that you can enjoy for the rest of your life.
Call us at (480) 759-1119
At Jungle Roots Children’s Dentistry & Orthodontics, we strive to provide the highest comprehensive pediatric and orthodontic dental care in a unique, fun-filled environment staffed by a team of caring, energetic professionals. We believe the establishment of a “dental home” at an early age is the key to a lifetime of positive visits to the dentist. Ahwatukee, Phoenix
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