Portrait of happy young pretty Asian girl with braces smiling.

Do I Need Rubber Bands With My Braces?

Posted on October 30, 2018 by Dr. Damon Szymanowski.

Undergoing orthodontic treatment with braces can come with its fair share of challenges. From food restrictions and adjustment appointments to broken brackets and bent wires, braces take some getting used to! Rubber bands can be viewed as another small hurdle to overcome, but like everything else associated with braces treatment, they’re an important (and temporary) part of the process.

Most patients will need to wear rubber bands at some point in the treatment process. These bands help to correct the alignment of the bite, reduce overbites or underbites, and in some cases, will open or close spaces. When you wear them as directed by Dr. Szymanowski, they will help move your teeth into more desirable positions. This will give you an attractive, fully functioning smile, and will also improve your overall oral health.

Even though these little annoyances can add up, they’re totally worth the end result! It’s important to us that our patients feel confident in their treatment plan, so if you’re being asked to wear rubber bands with your braces, understanding why can make the process less frustrating. Whether you’re set to wear elastics full-time or part-time, we want you to be informed about why we use rubber bands with braces, how they work, and how they’ll benefit your smile. Take a look below to learn more!

The role of rubber bands in orthodontics

When it comes to aligning the teeth and jaw, traditional braces are one of the most effective tools we have. After we attach the brackets to your teeth, they’ll work in conjunction with a set of wires that span from tooth to tooth to facilitate movement. Although this can successfully align the upper and lower sets of teeth separately, there must be something connecting the arches to actually correct the bite. There are several ways for us to accomplish this, including more intense methods like headgear and springs, but the most common method is rubber bands.

Rubber bands, sometimes called elastics, are the preferred method for a number of reasons. They’re obviously far more subtle than something like headgear, and tooth-colored elastics, in particular, can blend in very nicely with your natural smile. They can also be personalized by choosing combinations from a wide range of colors. This is a great way to showcase your personality, school spirit, etc.!

Because bands will have to be changed out frequently throughout the day, they are designed to be easy to remove and replace. They are stretchy and flexible, allowing you to maintain a full range of motion when engaging in everyday activities like talking, yawning, eating, and brushing your teeth. Elastics are also versatile, cost-effective, and can be used to correct almost all types of bite problems, including overbites, underbites, open bites, and crossbites.

Assorted orthodontics elastomeric rings for locking archwire to brackets in orthodontics treatment

Ligatures and rubber bands

Ligatures are the smaller of the two types of elastics, and these fit around the brackets to help the archwire retain its position there. Ligatures are what will help push or pull your teeth in the direction Dr. Szymanowski has laid out in your customized treatment plan.

The larger elastics are simply referred to as rubber bands. These can be placed in several different configurations to match the tensile force requirements of your mouth. The most common is the top-to-bottom and inter-arch configurations. Rubber bands are also used to apply pressure to your jaw, helping it achieve the proper alignment for your bite. Szymanowski Orthodontics have both types of elastics available in various colors.

How orthodontic rubber bands work

While the brackets, archwires, and ligatures are busy moving your teeth along the gumline, rubber bands will help pull the jaw backward or forwards so that the bottom and top rows of teeth can line up correctly.

This process begins when a bracket with a hook is placed along the right and left sides of your bottom and top teeth. We then attach rubber bands to these hooks on each side of the mouth. The amount of tensile force required to correct your specific orthodontic issues is what will determine the angle at which these bands are placed. This will ultimately improve your smile by allowing your teeth to fit together much more comfortably.

Rubber bands can also play an important role in speeding up the orthodontic process. However, this depends on you wearing them exactly as directed by Dr. Szymanowski.

Using rubber bands correctly

It’s important that you follow our instructions carefully when wearing rubber bands. Doing so will ensure your treatment proceeds according to schedule, and will provide you with the best results. It will also help you avoid extending your orthodontic journey!

For maximum effectiveness, you will likely be advised to wear your rubber bands 24/7. This means you will only take them out to brush, floss, put new bands in, and sometimes to eat. As with everything else in orthodontics, this will depend on your individual case. We generally don’t recommend taking the bands off while you are sleeping, and you should not double up on bands, either. Many patients mistakenly believe it will speed treatment up, but it actually slows things down, and can even cause damage to the roots.

You may notice some slight soreness in your mouth, teeth, and jaws the first few days of wearing rubber bands. This is completely normal and is only temporary. Don’t let this discourage you from keeping them in as directed! Wearing your elastics incorrectly can make your teeth more resistant to successful movement, and can also slow down your treatment progress.

Every time you take a band out, you should discard it and put on a new one. Depending on your specific case, your daily activities, and the strength of the elastics you use, you may find yourself replacing bands multiple times each day, so be sure you always have an extra pack of bands handy.

Woman smiling showing teeth with braces

Szymanowski Orthodontics keeps your treatment on track

As you can see, wearing rubber bands with your braces is an essential part of your orthodontic treatment. They play a crucial role in moving your jaw and teeth into the correct alignment, which is what will give you that beautiful, straight smile you’re working towards! Dr. Szymanowski and the rest of our talented team are committed to making the orthodontic process as easy as possible for you. If the time has come for you to wear rubber bands with your braces, we’re happy to help you through it by addressing any questions or concerns you might have, or just offering a little extra encouragement. Remember that this part of your orthodontic journey is only temporary. Before you know it, you’ll have a smile you can’t wait to share with the world!