Misaligned teeth are very common in the general population around the globe. It ruins your smile and lowers your confidence. Orthodontic treatment is the best solution if you have misaligned teeth. But sometimes you may need more than the usual braces and archwires. When your bite is not proper, you might need elastics or rubber bands with braces. These are unique dental rubber bands.
The dentist engages the elastics between the upper and lower braces. Dentists call them inter arch elastics. These elastics pull your jaws back in correct position so that you achieve a healthy bite.
You may need to take care of dental elastics and follow specific instructions. Not all cases of misalignment need elastics. Cases of crossbite or deep bite need elastics for correction of the bite.
So, let’s see why you may need elastics along with braces. Also, you need to know what instructions to follow and for how long you may need the elastics.
What are dental elastics?
When your teeth are misaligned and also your bite is not proper only braces won’t help. Deep bite is a type of malocclusion when your upper front teeth cover your lower teeth entirely.
Crossbite is a condition where your upper teeth lie behind your lower teeth. Both Crossbite and Open bite disbalance your bite. (1)
To correct your bite, dentists will need to pull your teeth back into correct position. Misaligned teeth reposition is done with the help of braces and archwires. But your bite can only improve with the help of dental elastics.
Types of Elastics
The following are the two significant types of elastics –
Archwires are placed over the braces and secured with elastics. These elastics are called ‘O-rings.’ These are white or transparent and smaller in size than other elastics.
There is another type of dental elastics. These are colored rubber bands. Your dentist places these between upper and lower braces. These elastic are the ones that correct your bite.
They pull your upper and lower teeth back in correct position. These bands are called ‘Interarch rubber bands or Elastics.’
Dentists refer to elastics as class I, II or III. The numbering of elastics is to segregate them. A different number of elastics correct various types of bite defects.
Why might you need elastics with braces?
Interarch rubber bands or elastics adjust bite and jaw position. They help to align your upper and lower teeth properly. It is essential as the teeth on each jaw are responsible for normal jaw movement.
Not every patient who needs orthodontic braces needs rubber bands. It depends on the position of your jaw and the degree of misalignment.
Your orthodontist carefully considers the placement of braces and elastics based on your jaw condition. If your orthodontist places rubber bands between your upper and lower teeth, keep them on.
Elastics are the last resort and only treatment for jaw alignment. (2) The conditions where you might need to wear elastics are –
Crossbite is a condition where teeth in your upper jaw lie inside the teeth on your lower jaw. Crossbite can happen either in your front or back teeth. There is unequal bite pressure in this condition.
Openbite happens when your upper and lower teeth have a gap between them. Open bite or incomplete bite self-corrects in children. But if you are an adult and have this problem, see a dentist.
In this condition, your upper front teeth cover your lower front teeth entirely. Out of all these problems, a deep bite is the easiest to correct with elastics.
Class three malocclusion of jaws
This type of jaw alignment is very prominent. I this you see that your lower jaw is ahead of your upper jaw. Class three malocclusion is the most challenging case to correct and may need orthognathic surgery as well.
For how long do you need to wear elastics?
Once your dentist has placed elastic or rubber bands in your braces, keep them on. Dentists suggest that you should wear elastic bands for 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The only time you can take the rubber bands out is when you eat or brush your teeth. Wear them while you sleep, and you should change them at least 3 to 5 times every day.
The length of time you wear elastics varies depending upon the severity of your condition. Once the correction is complete, your dentist will wean you off of the elastics.
So wear the rubber bands for as long as your dentist recommends you. They are essential in creating a proper bite and alignment of teeth. (3)
Instructions for you if you have elastics with braces
Once you begin to wear a rubber band on your braces, you need to follow these instructions. The length of your corrective therapy will depend on how precisely you follow these instructions:
- Rubber bands or elastics should be worn 24 hours a day unless your dentist instructs you otherwise.
- Remove the elastics only to eat and brush.
- Replace the elastics 3 or 4 times a day, since they lose their elasticity.
- Keep extra elastics with you, since they will occasionally break.
- If an elastic hook breaks, don’t wait for your next visit. Call your dentist.
- If your teeth become tender, see your dentist immediately.
- Rubber bands are useful only if used consistently. Not wearing them one day can set your treatment back by several days.
Over to you
The idea of having to wear rubber bands in your mouth may seem obnoxious. But they are a vital component of your orthodontic treatment.
You may want to remove these bands owing to social awkwardness. If you remove the elastics when you wish, you may delay your treatment.
Inevitably they break often and need extra care. But you can always carry a few additional pairs and replace them. Elastics help to readjust your bite and jaw positions.
Elastics reduce the need for jaw surgery and they are much cheaper and painless. Therefore, elastics are essential if your dentist recommends.