Using rubber bands or elastics (same thing, different word) for your braces is probably one of the top hurdles people have. How can something so small create such a headache? Why do they need to be so difficult? Do the rubber bands on your braces actually work? How do the braces bands work? How long do you wear the rubber bands for your braces?
Stay tuned, because we’re going to answer all these questions and more.
Why Do You Need Rubber Bands for Braces?
When you get rubber bands for your braces, it can be for several reasons. Most of the time, it is to correct an underbite or an overbite. Less commonly, it is used to correct a cross-bite. We’re going to go over all of those in detail a little bit lower. This type of elastics used for braces is typical called interarch elastics.
Another type of rubber band is used commonly with braces, however, most people really don’t think much about them. These are called ligature bands and they are used to hold the post on the actual brace. When people think about colored rubber bands, this is what they most commonly think about.
Dentists who use the elastics for braces use them to help them work faster. The elastics put pressure on the jaw and help move both teeth and draw to more correct positioning. Most of the bands will need to be worn 24 hours a day, however, some bands are only used at night. Typically, when your braces are most active in correcting a problem, the bands are used 24 hours a day. Only when your teeth are in place and you’re getting ready to transition to a retainer will they reduce the time to just nights.
How long you need to wear the right braces rubber bands is up to your orthodontist. Typically, the bands are used the entire time you have braces, so this will be a several-year investment.
Parts of Your Braces
In order to fully explain the necessity of the braces with rubber bands, let’s first take a look at the various parts of a teeth brace.
Do All Braces Have Rubber Bands?
Typically, all traditional metal braces do have the rubber bands. These bands are the ligature bands to hold the post in place. Not all braces will have these, nor do many of them have the interarch elastics. For example, Damon Braces and Invisalign use different technology and do not require elastic ligatures. The interach bands are used mostly when an overbite, under-bites, or cross-bite are present. Sometimes an orthodontist will use the elastics when certain teeth need to be pushed or pulled into a proper position.
Braces with Rubber Bands: For What Purposes
The elastics on your braces are not very visible. Typically, the braces bands are found on the back of teeth. This is most commonly used for the overbite, underbite, and cross-bite. There are several types of rubber bands that are used for different purposes. In the end, the bands will help correct the most important part of your teeth in the mouth, your bite. When you have a proper bite, you have less job pain, reduced dental problems, and fewer neck problems and headaches.
Rubber Bands for Overbite
Type 2 rubber bands for braces are typically used for an overbite. Bands for an overbite start further forward in the mouth, near the canines, on the top of the mouth. They stretch back and down to the lower molars on the lower jaw. This helps pull the jaw forward so the top teeth do not protrude as far.
Rubber Bands for Underbite
These type 3 rubber band for braces are the exact opposite for an overbite and may be called class 3 elastics. Bands for an underbite will start forward on the lower jaw, close to the front teeth and stretch up and back to the upper molars. This helps pull the jaw back so the chin does not stick out as far.
Crossbite Rubber Bands
A cross-bite is not one of the more common types of dental problems, and the rubber bands are one of the best fixes for the problem. Depending on the origin of the problem, your dentist will choose different teeth in order to attach the elastics. This may be perhaps the most uncommon type of usage because the elastic will stretch across your mouth and may interfere with your tongue.
These are a type of elastic that your dentist puts on to hold the posts in place on the brace. Typically, you do not deal with these bands unless they break. Your dentist will put them on and take them off for you.
Triangle Rubber Bands
When your orthodontist needs to keep your teeth in precise place, they will use a triangular formation with your rubber bands. Generally, it does not allow your mouth to open very much and hold your jaw firmly in place. They are used around specific braces for specific teeth. Since this is a more unusual formation, be sure to talk to an orthodontist about it’s a necessity and exactly how to use them on your braces.
Chain Rubber Bands
Sometimes a group of teeth need to be pulled together and for this, your dentist will use your rubber bands in a chain formation. Typically, they are used on either the top teeth or the bottom teeth and rarely will cross over. There are many ways to chain the elastics depending on what teeth need to be moved. Sometimes it’s just two teeth that are next to each other, while other times it can be multiple teeth in a line. And still, other times you could skip a tooth in between. Be sure to work with an orthodontist to know exactly what the purpose of chaining your bands and precisely how to do it.
How to Put Rubber Bands on Braces
Your orthodontist will tell you where to put rubber bands on braces. Every person has a unique bite and that will determine which teeth the bands are attached to. Before you leave your dentist office the first time, be sure they teach you how to wear your braces bands and how to take off the braces bands.
Be sure to be very clear on what teeth the bands are attached to. Most orthodontists will give you a chart to show you which teeth to attach your bands to. You will be putting on your bands at least twice a day, and maybe as many times as six times per day.
Some people are dexterous enough that they are able to put the rubber bands on with their fingers, however, for the rest of us, we use a rubber band hook for braces *. This rubber band tool allows us to get into tight places in our mouth and accurately place the elastic on the correct brace. The braces and rubber band positions are very precise and accurate placement is a must.
Rubber Bands in Colors
The elastic comes in all the colors of the rainbow. You can get silver braces band, glow-in-the-dark braces band, holiday themes elastics, and polka dots if you truly want. This may be the only fun thing about braces. And did you know you can get flavored rubber bands for your braces?
In truth, the color combination for braces rubber bands is endless. You need to talk to your dentist to see which ones will work best for you, just to be sure you do get the correct ones.
The best color rubber bands that look great on your braces are really up to you. Are you a fan of purple, or polka dots? Depending on where you live the most popular braces color can be red, blue, or silver. Typically, people in the Northeast United States prefer red. In the western United States, they prefer pastels. India prefers rainbow colors. And various countries in Europe are changing so continuously we can’t even keep up with who prefers what.
We love seeing all different types of combinations. Did you put colored bands on clear braces? How about using clear bands with your metal braces? We want you to share your braces rubber band color combinations in the comments below. Help us share just exactly what fun groups you have.
What is the smallest size rubber band for braces?
There are various sizes for the rubber bands. The smallest elastics are the ones that fit around the actual brace, the ligature elastic. They are not meant to change the way your jaw closes. However, these are the ones that come in the most colors and you can have the most fun combining.
How to relieve pain from rubber bands on braces?
Some pain is unavoidable when you have braces. However, the rubber bands on your braces should not hurt so much. If you need to relieve the pain from your rubber bands or your braces, it should require nothing more than a little ice or a mild pain reliever. If you require more remedies than just this, it is a sign that your braces are not fitted properly and you need to visit your orthodontist again. They will be able to help you get rid of the pain from your rubber bands or your braces.
Can you eat and drink with rubber bands on your braces?
Most of the time, you are supposed to use your rubber bands while eating. You should be able to eat with your braces rubber bands on without any issue. They should not block your mouth or your throat. If you have issues with eating, talk to your orthodontist and they may recommend taking the bands off while you eat.
While you are eating, you are using your jaw muscles and opening and closing your mouth rapidly. Your bands will cause the fastest changes during your eating times. Because of the motion and the resistance, you will build muscle and change the way your jaw sets faster.
Sometimes, while you are eating, a food particle might break one of your bands and the rubber band could become stuck in the back of your throat. This is a highly uncomfortable feeling. Generally, you will end up swallowing the band if it’s stuck in your throat and you cannot cough it up. This is not a problem, as the elastic will pass through your digestive system without a problem.
Use caution if the rubber band is inhaled. Any time an object lodges into your windpipe, this is a medical emergency.
Do you sleep in braces rubber bands?
In nearly every case, you will sleep with your rubber bands in your mouth. Even in cases where you take the rubber bands out occasionally, your orthodontist will recommend you leave the bands in overnight. They should not affect your sleep in any way and some of the best time for adjustment occurs overnight. If you find that you are grinding your teeth because of the elastics, discuss this with your orthodontist as this could set you back years in your treatment.
Can you reuse braces rubber bands?
In some cases you can reuse your bands, however, dentists recommend that once you take out elastic, you do not use it again. These elastics are not meant for repeated use and should be replaced often. If you are worried about going through your bands quickly, talk to your orthodontist. They should replace your bands free of charge so you can change them as often as you need to.
Can you double up on braces rubber bands?
After removing the bands when you’re not supposed to, doubling up on the elastics is one of the worst mistakes you can make. Each band is calibrated to a specific strength and your orthodontist is using that specific strength for a specific reason. By doubling up on the bands, you are changing the calculations and could cause irreparable damage.
Problems (and the Fixes) for Band Problems
There are a lot of elastic problems when it comes to braces. Fortunately, many of them have easy fixes.
Braces can be painful and the braces rubber bands can hurt just as much. That’s because you’re pulling on teeth and teeth really shouldn’t be pulled upon. All dentists and orthodontists will remind you that some pain is to be expected. It should not be anything more than a simple, mild pain reliever will remedy. You should not be experiencing any cuts, burns, abrasions, or blistering. The pain should not be excruciating. You should be able to sleep just fine.
If you experience pain that is more than just mild, this is a reason to call your dentist orthodontist immediately. It could be a signal of damage that is being done or that your braces are not aligned properly.
Your dentist or orthodontist will tell you if it’s appropriate to remove the elastics to help relieve the pain. Generally, braces rubber bands do not cause pain and you don’t need pain relief specifically for that. For the most part, your orthodontist will not tell you to remove the elastics. We do not recommend you remove the elastics on your own, even if it does make it feel better. It could set you back days or even weeks in your treatment.
The bands are small and flexible, and they are meant to only be worn for a short period of time. To that effect, they are not made to be durable. Many people will experience a broken band at least once during their treatments. It’s okay. If it broke, just replace it. Most dentists in orthodontist will recommend that you keep spare bands with you at all times just for this kind of scenario.
If you are continuously breaking the same band, this is a sign that your braces are not aligned or you are not using the correct size band. This is a reason to call your orthodontist and have them check to make sure the bands are correct.
It Fell Off!
What to do when your rubber band falls off is rather simple, just replace it. Just like when it breaks, the band might be defective or stretched out too much. Simply replace it. Again, if it falls off often, it’s a sign that it is an incorrect size or there’s something going on. Contact your orthodontist just to make sure everything is still in the right place.
How to Clean Braces Bands
Well, since we replace the bands so often, you really don’t need to clean your bands and this is the same thing for how to whitening your braces bands, don’t.
But, if you’re talking about the ligature elastics, this can be a whole different scenario. Clear and white braces bands tend to stain a lot faster. Because there’s very little color or no color, they tend to pick up strongly tinted liquids and foods very fast. It is very difficult to remove stains from braces bands. But we can keep the braces bands from staining.
You should avoid any foods that have chemical colors. This involves any processed food or baked goods that contain colors as part of the ingredients. The dyes that are used to create the colors are very strong and tend to be plastic-based. They are absorbed into other plastics, such as latex, and stick to them. They tend to stain braces bands very quickly.
Also, avoid any drinks that are dark colored. This includes soda, tea, and coffee. Not only do these drinks stain your teeth, they very quickly stain your bands.
Once your bands are stained, it’s very difficult to get out the stain. It is most noticeable in clear braces where the dark stain is more prominent. If you have silver or other colored braces, you can get away with some staining.
However, since most of the foods and drinks that tend to stain your bands are unhealthy, we recommend you stay away from that food and drinks altogether. You will be healthier and you don’t have to worry about stains.
There are dozens of remedies online for cleaning braces bands and your braces, but we want to remind you that most dental associations have rejected these at home fixes. Many of them will break down the bands and could even damage the braces. We recommend you talk to your dentist or orthodontist in order to discover what products or cleaning techniques they recommend.
Two of the most common remedies, baking soda, and peroxide, are very damaging to braces and bands. While it looks good on paper, we do not recommend using these at all.
Where to Buy Braces Rubber Bands
First of all, be very sure and specific on the type of rubber band your orthodontist has prescribed for you. Getting one even the slightest bit off will disrupt the progress you have already made, and you could have your braces for years more than you need to.
There are only a few reasons to buy rubber bands for your braces since most dentists will provide you as many elastics as you require for free. One of the biggest reasons people buy rubber bands for braces is that they make phenomenal hair ties and are great for crafting. Other reasons are flavored bands, specialty colors and tints, and novelty elastics.
All in all, what you need to understand is that rubber bands for your braces are important, so you need to wear them as often as your orthodontist tells you to. You can have some fun with them, but you can’t fool around. You need to make sure that you are wearing them correctly so that you don’t unnecessarily prolong the time you need to wear braces.
In the end, while rubber bands and braces may look good, nothing beats your appearance when you can take off your braces permanently and you can display a set of perfect teeth once and for all.
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