Orthodontic braces consist of three main components, which include brackets, archwire, and elastic bands. However, some patients may require an additional aid of rubber bands to complete the treatment. Inter-arch rubber bands are used to align the jaw and correct the bite of the patient. These bands are usually, hooked onto the brackets that are attached on to the top canines.
They are then stretched down to the brackets on the bottom molars. This positioning can be reversed depending on the patient’s bite correction. (1) The primary purpose of rubber bands is to either pull the jaw forward or backward to bring the teeth in proper alignment. Typically, these rubber bands can be categorized into two types –
- Single elastic ligature – these bands are used to straighten the teeth. An orthodontist will change these elastics at every appointment as single elastics lose strength over time.
- Connected elastic ligature – this type is also referred to as power chain. Connected elastics are mainly used to close spaces between the teeth, or move a group of teeth together at the same time. These bands are also changed at every appointment. (2)
How to wear the inter-arch rubber bands at home?
Once the rubber bands have been placed, it is the patient’s responsibility to follow the instructions given by the orthodontist faithfully. Following are the essential instructions a patient with rubber bands should follow precisely –
- Depending on your malocclusion and dentist’s instructions, secure the rubber band on the top canine bracket and stretch it towards the lower molar bracket (or vice-versa).
- Wear the rubber bands for 24 hours a day and remove it only when eating or brushing.
- The rubber bands are to be changed at least 3-4 times a day as they quickly lose their elasticity. (3)
- Always keep extra bands to replace any broken or loose elastics immediately.
- If an elastic hook breaks, call the dentist immediately.
- If you do not have sufficient elastics until your next appointment, call the dental office and ask for an extra pair of bands. This process should not be delayed.
- Pain relievers like Tylenol and Advil can be used for tender teeth.
- Consistent use f rubber bands will shorten the length of your treatment and effectively align the jaw in an ideal position.
How long should you wear inter-arch rubber bands?
The duration of the use of rubber bands depends on the type of bite and correction required. Usually, it may range from one month to 6-8 months. During this period, the rubber bands are typically worn for 24 hours every day unless otherwise directed.
If the patient wishes to remove the bands, he may do so while –
- Brushing teeth
- Replacing old bands with new ones
It is the patient’s responsibility to properly place the rubber bands back after completing any of the above activities. Continues use of rubber bands ensures proper alignment of teeth and shorten the length of the treatment. Note that the inter-arch rubber bands are not mandatory for every orthodontic patient. The requirements change according to the jaw alignment and positioning of the teeth. Talk to your orthodontist to get more information about suitable treatments for your case.