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How Do Rubber Bands Work for Orthodontic Braces?

Braces Rubber Bands

Orthodontists have plenty of tools at their disposal to help you get the most healthy and good-looking smile possible. Braces are one of the most common appliances for this exact purpose, but often crucial parts of the appliances like ligatures and rubber bands are looked over. Here we will explain why they are so important to the process and why taking good care of them is essential.

What Do Rubber Bands Do For Braces?

First of all, we need to acknowledge the difference between ligatures and rubber bands. Although they are both elastics that apply pressure to your teeth and their surrounding areas, they have very different functions and placements.

Ligatures are elastics positioned on the bracket itself to hold the archwire in place. The various ligatures attaching the wire to each bracket are what pull your teeth to their new location as the metal wire tries to straighten itself. Because of this constant pressure, orthodontists change ligatures almost every check-up. Additionally, the patient can pick which color they would like to wear on their braces, be careful when choosing a lighter color or transparent ligatures as they are the most susceptible to stains.

The rubber bands’ function is to apply extra force on some specific teeth. They are especially useful in closing spaces between teeth and correcting bad bites such as underbite, overbite, and fixing an open bite. Patients attach this type of rubber band to a hook that spurs from the bracket, this hook can look different if it is on a molar or premolar teeth. Orthodontists recommend having your elastics on 24/7 with the only exception being when you are having lunch or when brushing your teeth. 

What Are The Types of Elastics in Orthodontics?

There are various types of both ligatures and rubber bands. Ligatures always have the same purpose of holding the archwire in place, but the material they’re made of and the position they’re in can change how frequently you visit your orthodontist and if you will require additional treatment.

The most common type of ligature is elastic ligation. Elastic ligatures are your classic colored rubber bands that attach to the bracket to hold the archwire in place. They are very customizable and have a smaller profile than other ligatures. Given their elastic nature, there is a need to change them every few weeks so that the metal wire remains tightly attached.  Self-ligation is another type of ligature that holds the archwire in place with a specialized metal door on the bracket. They don’t require adjusting as often as elastic ligation but they’re more expensive and a little more difficult to work with at the later stages of the treatment. 

According to Healthline, dentists classify rubber bands by either size, force, material, or even by the specific problems they’re trying to fix, mostly it’s either closing space between teeth or fixing bad bites. Usually, orthodontists will give you latex rubber bands unless you’re allergic to them in which case you can use synthetic ones. 

How to Put Ligatures on Braces?

Knowing how to put your elastics on is very important given that you will have to change them 4 to 5 times a day. Your orthodontist will show you the attachment points for each rubber band, it’s very important that you remember this correctly as attaching them incorrectly can delay your treatment.

When attaching your rubber bands close your mouth so you don’t have to stretch them as much. Use your index and thumb to grip the elastic and attach them to the hook on the side of each bracket. If you find it difficult to attach there are plastic tools that can help you out, just ask your orthodontist about them. 

Ligatures are only attached by your orthodontist given that they are the only ones who know how much force should be put on each bracket.

Lost ligature Braces

In the event of a ligature loss or damage, make an appointment with your orthodontist as soon as possible. Usually, when one ligature breaks more will follow because of the uneven pressure on the remaining elastics. In situations like this, the archwire moves out of position and if left untreated could end up moving your teeth in a different direction, eliminating any progress previously made.  

If any of your rubber bands break or are gone missing, there is no need to worry. Your orthodontist will give you more elastics than needed for this exact reason. If despite that you are out of rubber bands, you can ask your dentist for more at any moment.

Don’t forget that for both rubber bands and ligatures the more time you are without them the more damaging the effects will be for your treatment.

For any orthodontic emergency whether it’s related to rubber bands and ligatures or not contact us here. Everyone here at Hillsdale Orthodontics will be happy to assist you.

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Dr. Alix J. Leemin DMD, MS

Dr. Alix J. Leemin DMD, MS

As a nutty overachiever, Dr. Leemin never lost sight of her childhood dreams of becoming a smartypants orthodontist. After graduating from Stanford University with a Bachelor of Arts with Honors, she embarked on her career in dentistry at the University of Pennsylvania, where she graduated #1 in her class. Feeling just a little too ambitious, she then completed 2.5 years of additional training at OHSU to become an orthodontic specialist.

Stanford University – Bachelor of Arts with Honors
Univ. of Pennsylvania – Doctor of Dental Medicine
Oregon Health & Science Univ. – Master of Science
Oregon Health & Science Univ. – Certificate in Orthodontics

Dr. Alix J. Leemin DMD, MS

Dr. Alix J. Leemin DMD, MS

As a nutty overachiever, Dr. Leemin never lost sight of her childhood dreams of becoming a smartypants orthodontist. After graduating from Stanford University with a Bachelor of Arts with Honors, she embarked on her career in dentistry at the University of Pennsylvania, where she graduated #1 in her class. Feeling just a little too ambitious, she then completed 2.5 years of additional training at OHSU to become an orthodontic specialist.

Stanford University – Bachelor of Arts with Honors
Univ. of Pennsylvania – Doctor of Dental Medicine
Oregon Health & Science Univ. – Master of Science
Oregon Health & Science Univ. – Certificate in Orthodontics