Braces and clear aligners such as Invisalign do an amazing job of straightening your teeth, but they rarely complete the task alone. Often, there are other tools to help, such as orthodontic rubber bands. You may have heard of rubber bands for braces, but did you know you can use them with Invisalign as well? Rubber bands often come near the end of treatment to guide your teeth into their final positions by properly aligning your jaws and eliminating crossbites.
At Hamilton, Wilson & Hendrickson Orthodontics, we get a lot of questions about rubber bands. Why are there different sizes of rubber bands for braces? Are rubber bands and o-ring elastics the same thing? Why do I need to wear rubber bands? When should I change my bands? Not to worry; we have all the answers you need!
What Are Rubber Bands for Braces, and How Do They Work?
Rubber bands for braces or Invisalign are a common tool used to enhance the straightening power of your appliances. Rubber bands aren’t to be confused with the o-ring elastics that go around each bracket of traditional metal braces. Our braces system doesn’t actually use those o-ring elastics, so no confusion there. Instead, you put rubber bands on yourself. They fit on tiny posts found on your brackets.
Orthodontic rubber bands are made of high-tech, medical-grade latex that is designed to be strong enough to exert pressure to align your teeth. Those with a latex allergy can use an alternative type of rubber band that doesn’t contain any latex but still does the job. Either kind of rubber band — latex or non-latex — is designed to apply gentle pressure to move your teeth into their proper positions. Keep that in mind — you don’t want to try to stick hair tie bands in your mouth.
Rubber bands can be used with Invisalign as well. Instead of posts on brackets, the Invisalign system uses tiny buttons with hooks bonded to your teeth above or below the clear aligner. The rubber band stretches from the upper to the lower jaw and hooks on those tiny buttons.
There are several sizes of rubber bands, depending on how far they need to stretch. Some stretch nearly vertically from the top jaw to the bottom one, while others may stretch from the front of the upper jaw to the back of the lower jaw. The placement, size, and stretch of the rubber band depend on the job it needs to do. Is it pulling your lower jaw forward to fix an overbite, or is it moving the upper teeth back in line with the lower molars to repair a crossbite? We will let you know the function of the rubber bands when we show you how to put the rubber bands on your teeth.
Dos and Don’ts of Wearing Rubber Bands With Braces
There are a few important things to keep in mind with braces. Here are five “dos” and 5 “don’ts” to make wearing rubber bands with braces easier.
The Dos of Braces with Rubber Bands
- Do follow our directions on which rubber bands to use and how to use them. Each type of rubber band and position has a specific purpose, so make sure you follow the instructions each time you put in your rubber bands.
- Do wear your rubber bands at least 22 hours a day, taking them out only to eat or brush and floss your teeth. The less you wear your rubber bands, the longer your treatment may be.
- Do bring extra rubber bands with you wherever you go if you need to remove them for eating. You never want to reuse your rubber bands for sanitary reasons, so make sure you have spare ones available.
- Do be careful placing your rubber bands on correctly. Otherwise, they may pop off the post and pop the inside of your mouth! You don’t want to overstretch your rubber bands, or they could pop off. So be sure you’re using the right size, and they fit completely over the post.
- Do talk to us if you have any problems. If your rubber bands pop off the posts easily, don’t suffer in silence while they constantly pop you in the mouth. Let us know! There’s a chance the post on your bracket was bent, and it may make it more challenging to put the rubber band on properly or keep it in place. If so, we can fix it so that you won’t have a rubber band popping you in your mouth every time you open it!
These five tips will make your treatment with rubber bands and braces or Invisalign go quickly and more smoothly. There are a few “don’ts” to keep in mind, too.
The Don’ts of Braces with Rubber Bands
- Don’t take your rubber bands off because they’re uncomfortable at first. After a few days, the discomfort should subside. The less you wear your rubber bands, the longer it will take to get past the discomfort.
- Don’t take your rubber bands off at night. The rubber bands will stay in place, so don’t worry about sleeping in rubber bands. It’s just like sleeping with braces or Invisalign.
- Don’t double your rubber bands to speed up your treatment. We’ve had patients ask, can you speed up your rubberband treatment? The short answer is “no.” This can apply too much pressure and can hurt. It can also damage the roots of your teeth or your jaw.
- Don’t wait until you run out of rubber bands to get more. When you run low, give us a call, but don’t let them run out because you need to wear them at least 22 hours a day.
- Don’t use anything other than the rubber bands we prescribe. Those rubber bands provide a specific amount of pressure in just the right areas. The wrong size or type could damage your mouth and prolong your treatment.
Managing Any Braces Elastic Difficulties
It may take a bit of time to get used to using rubber bands with braces or Invisalign. You may be tempted to wear them less at first and gradually work your way into them, but this will only prolong your treatment. You need to wear them full-time from the start. If there is some pain or discomfort, an over-the-counter painkiller, such as Tylenol should alleviate the pain. After a few days, you’ll notice the discomfort subsiding. If it hasn’t lessened or has gotten worse after a week, call us right away.
These rubber bands are small but are incredibly strong. Still, you may get one that breaks either while you’re applying it or once it’s in place. If so, don’t worry about it. Simply remove the damaged rubber band and put in a new one.
During your treatment, we may tell you to wear your rubber bands one way, and then we may change the location after a few visits because we need your teeth to move in a different direction. If you forget how to put your rubber bands in place, just call us and ask. We will jog your memory on how you need to wear your rubber bands right now. Don’t be afraid to ask if you have any problems with your rubber bands. We want your treatment to go as smoothly as possible, and we will do all we can to make that happen!
Rubber Bands and Braces or Invisalign in Topeka
Now that you know what rubber bands are used for with braces or Invisalign, you’re ready to jump into treatment, right? OK, maybe you’re not, but don’t worry! That’s why we’re here! We treat all kinds of patients in Topeka, KS, so we are familiar with all of the questions surrounding rubber bands. Hamilton, Wilson & Hendrickson Orthodontics is here when you need us, and we will be here throughout your treatment. Request an appointment with us to get started today!