How Orthodontic Rubber Bands Help Your Treatment

We see rubber bands all over the home, school, the workplace and even at the gym. They keep our art prints and posters rolled up into neat little crease-free tubes. They help us to keep stacks of documents together. They help us open jars with stubborn lids. They can even be used for resistance training, helping us to strengthen our muscles or supporting us while we carry out our exercise regimen. But how do orthodontic rubber bands help your treatment?

Rubber bands attached to your braces

If you’ve recently had braces fitted, or are about to, you may find that rubber bands are attached to your braces.

It may seem like an odd and even unwelcome addition to your orthodontic treatment.

Eating and talking with a rubber band in your mouth may seem like an uncomfortable and restrictive notion.

Braces with orthodontic rubber bands fitted
Image source: Australian Society of Orthodontists

Yet, while it certainly takes a little getting used to, it is nonetheless very important in making sure that you get the most out of your braces.

Still not convinced? Let us enlighten you…

What kinds of rubber bands are used in your orthodontic treatment?

Rubber bands have a range of uses in the orthodontic world.

Except here we call them orthodontic elastics.

These elastics are crafted from medical-grade latex, which is safe to be in contact with your mouth.

“Don’t worry, your orthodontist will show you how to change your elastics and over time it will feel as much a part of your dental regimen as brushing, flossing or using mouthwash.”

Still, they are much like the rubber bands you see everywhere in day to day life.

They’re just specially formulated for orthodontic purposes.

The most common rubber bands are ligature ties.

Ligature ties

These are the kind of rubber bands that work with traditional braces and they loop around each bracket and help to hold the archwire in place.

The archwire is what will provide the force necessary to move your teeth to their most optimal position.

This ensures that your braces remain in place and can work towards keeping your teeth beautifully straight.

However, we also sometimes use orthodontic elastics to help people with bite alignment.

These are hooked on each side of your mouth and stretching from your top canines to your bottom molars (or vice versa) depending on the nature of your bite.

They can be used to correct underbites, overbites and crossbites.

So, while rubber bands may feel unfamiliar or even uncomfortable at first, they are nonetheless essential in making sure that your teeth and / or jaw remain properly aligned between visits to your orthodontist.

Do I have to keep orthodontic rubber bands in all the time?

Unless instructed otherwise by your orthodontist, you should keep your elastics in your mouth at all times.

They can, however, be removed when brushing or flossing.

It’s also common to remove the elastics during meals if opening your mouth wide enough to eat is difficult.

Just make sure to pop them right back in again when you’ve finished.

“These elastics are crafted from medical-grade latex, which is safe to be in contact with your mouth.”

However, this doesn’t mean that you should keep the same elastics in your mouth at all times.

Your orthodontist will supply you with plenty of elastics every time you drop in for a visit and they should be changed every 8-12 hours.

This will ensure that they stay strong and continue to do their job.

Don’t worry, your orthodontist will show you how to change your elastics and over time it will feel as much a part of your dental regimen as brushing, flossing or using mouthwash.

Will it hurt to have rubber bands in my mouth?

Some patients experience a little discomfort when rubber bands are first fitted.

This can easily be mitigated by eating soft foods for the first few days and using over-the counter pain medication if the discomfort becomes distracting.

What do I do if a rubber band snaps in my mouth?

Don’t worry. This is a fairly common occurrence.

If a rubber band snaps in your mouth it may feel peculiar but there’s no need to panic.

Just change your elastics as soon as you’re able.

Teenager with braces & orthodontic rubber bands

If you’re changing elastics regularly, the risk of snapping should be fairly minimal, but it’s still a good idea to carry some spare elastics with you at all times.

Good habits for orthodontic rubber bands

DO – Get in the habit of carrying around extra elastics and replace them as soon as one breaks. By consistently wearing the elastics, you will ensure that your orthodontic treatment is constantly progressing.

DON’T – Double up on elastics as this will cause too much pressure on the tooth or teeth and can actually harm the roots of the tooth.

DO – Always wash your hands before removing or replacing the elastics.

DON’T – Overstretch the rubber band or it will lose its strength and it will be ineffective.

DO – Call us if you run out of rubber bands. You’re welcome to pick some up at our Benowa or Helensvale practice, or we can pop some in the mail for you. Try to let us know before you run out though.

Final thoughts

Although the idea of attaching rubber bands to your teeth and jaw may seem a bit odd, they can be absolutely essential in ensuring that your braces work as they should and that your teeth and jaw are as healthy as possible.

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