Why Do I Need Rubber Bands for Braces?

Patients who undergo orthodontic treatment via the use of braces will sometimes also need to wear rubber bands for braces. Though not all patients will need the additional pressure that these elastic bands provide when fixing misaligned teeth, many will need to use them either all day or during the night. Though they can cause additional pain and discomfort, these bands also help to increase the pace of the treatment so that patients will see result faster. Patients need to learn how to put on and take off the bands, the restrictions involved with having to use them, and the oral hygiene routine that they need to follow.

Purpose of Rubber Bands

Rubber bands for braces are attached from one bracket to another, either vertically or diagonally, to add additional pressure to a particular area. When used from an upper bracket to a lower one or vice versa, the elastic bands can also work to fix an incorrect bite. Also known as inter-arch elastics, the bands not only help the teeth move into the correct position, they also help the teeth to work better in conjunction with the jaw. Because inter-arch elastics can cause enough pressure that can even result in unwanted movement of the teeth and jaw when the jaw bone is not growing vertically, they work best with younger patients whose bones are still growing. Another type of elastic band are the smaller elastic ligatures used to secure the wire to the brackets. They can be single elastic ligatures and connected elastic ligatures. They come in different colors and the single ones are usually the same size. The orthodontist changes these during each monthly adjustment since they lose strength over time.

Proper Usage

Patients who use elastic bands to aid in the movement of their teeth cannot eat any solid foods while wearing the bands. They must remove the bands to eat and then put them on again after eating. This must be done correctly to avoid causing pressure in the wrong direction. Patients should also be careful when stretching their mouth open. If they stretch it too far they run the risk of breaking the band, which can be painful, or having it slip off. The inter-arch elastics must be changed daily since they lose strength as they are worn. New daily bands ensure that the pressure remains constant. If a patient forgets to change them, it begins to affect the treatment, since teeth movement will be a lot slower and can even stop.

Oral Hygiene

Following a good oral hygiene routine is important when using rubber bands for braces. Teeth should be brushed and cleaned before putting on a new set of elastics and after eating a meal, particularly if the same set of bands will be used again. In the case where rubber bands need to be cleaned, either between meals or if they need to be reused during an emergency, the patient should remember to clean them in saltwater for five minutes, rub away any accumulated particles, rinse them and then place them on the brackets again.

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