Why Rubber Bands Are Used on Braces
Considering the years of education and training it takes to become an orthodontist, it may seem a bit odd that one of the most frequently used tools in an orthodontic office is a tiny rubber band. Is it really the best way to fix someone’s smile? How much can it do? Quite a lot, actually. That is why rubber bands are used along with braces or Invisalign to fix some common issues.
Rubber Bands Are Used on Braces to Fix Bite Problems
Braces and Invisalign aligners are great ways to straighten teeth and close any gaps, but crooked or crowded teeth are not the only issues that can cause problems with your smile. An incorrect bite can affect everything from how you chew food and talk to how rapidly your teeth wear down throughout your life.
The most common bite issues are the overbite and the underbite. While a person’s front top teeth should overlap their bottom teeth a little bit, if the overlap is more extreme, it is considered an overbite. If a person’s bottom teeth and jaw stick out further than their top teeth, they have an underbite.
What Rubber Bands on Braces Do
The brackets and wires of braces or the series of clear trays from Invisalign correct the spacing of your teeth and straighten them within your jaws. But these devices have no way by themselves to help get the top and bottom teeth to fit together better. Rubber bands, also known as elastics, are used to help bring your teeth together properly when you bite down. Not every person who has braces will get rubber bands though. If your bite is generally in a good position, rubber bands may not be necessary.
Elastics are attached from the bracket hooks of the top teeth to the bottom teeth in very specific places based on the type of bite. For Invisalign treatment, small notches can be added to the trays or small buttons can be attached directly to specific teeth to give you a place to hook elastics.
If you have an overbite, an elastic will be attached to the top teeth toward the front of the mouth and the bottom teeth toward the back on each side. The gentle pressure from these bands will gradually pull the bottom teeth and jaw out to line up with the top one.
In an underbite, the setup is reversed, with the bands being attached in the back on the top teeth and toward the front on the bottom. This arrangement brings the lower jaw back in place beneath the top jaw.
The Other Kind of Rubber Bands
You may have noticed some people also have small often very colorful rubber bands around each bracket of their braces. These can be individual rings or a string of rings called a “power chain,” which are used to attach the wires to the brackets. These are totally different than the rubber bands that fix your bite. The biggest difference other than their purpose is that patients have to place the bite-correcting elastics in the mouth throughout the day, while the colorful ones on the braces are only replaced by the orthodontist.
How to Take Care of Your Rubber Bands
You as the patient are responsible for using your elastics properly. They should be removed when you are eating or brushing and flossing your teeth; otherwise, they should be in your mouth. You will also need to change them out 2-3 times every day to keep the proper tension on your teeth.
Not wearing your rubber bands long enough each day, or failing to change them regularly, can extend the length of your treatment. Not something that most patients want. So, if you need elastics as part of your treatment, be sure to follow your orthodontist’s instructions and you will be enjoying your new, perfectly-aligned smile in no time.
Fravel and Brewer Orthodontics has been helping patients achieve beautiful smiles as the preferred orthodontist in Winter Garden, Ocoee, and West Orange County, Florida for almost 30 years. Treatment options for kids and adults include Invisalign, Invisalign Teen, ceramic braces, and silver braces. Call us at (407) 656-0001 to schedule a free consultation today!