Rubber Bands 101 for Braces

Having to wear braces is enough to have to adjust to, but sometimes your orthodontist will also give your rubber bands to wear as well. They can take some getting used to, but don’t give up so quickly. They have an important job to do, adding extra tension to your teeth to help move your teeth in the right position.

Having to wear braces is enough to have to adjust to, but sometimes your orthodontist will also give your rubber bands to wear as well. They can take some getting used to, but don’t give up so quickly. They have an important job to do, adding extra tension to your teeth to help move your teeth in the right position.

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Check out this Rubber Bands 101 for Braces to help you prepare for wearing rubber bands with your braces.

What Exactly Are Rubber Bands for Braces?

Also called elastics, these rubber bands are tiny and come in many different colors. The rubber bands have two roles when it comes to orthodontic treatment. First you have rubber bands called ligatures that are wrapped around each individual bracket to hold the archwire in place. They stay in place all of the time and are only removed by your orthodontist when he or she adjusts your braces at your appointment.

Everyone who wears braces have these rubber bands, but some may need an additional type of rubber band during treatment. Called interarch rubber bands, rubber bands focus on fixing your bite and the alignment of your jaw.

Keep in mind that these rubber bands are different from the rubber bands you will find in your local stationary store or pharmacy so don’t think about using those if the ones from the dentist run out before your next appointment. Always get your supply directly from your orthodontist.

How Do They Work?

Typically you will be asked to wear a rubber band on each side of your mouth. They will be hooked onto a bracket attached to your top canines and then stretched until it can be hooked onto a bracket attached to one of your bottom molars. The rubber bands help keep the archwire in place.

Tips for Wearing Rubber Bands on Your Braces

Making sure you wear your rubber bands every day is an important responsibility that you shouldn’t ignore. While it will take some adjustment and your mouth will feel a little sore in the beginning, in time you will forget that they are even there.

Here are some tips for adjusting to wearing rubber bands on your braces:

  • To hook the rubber bands securely use both your thumb and your pointer fingers. In the beginning, stand in front of a mirror to do it. Eventually you will be a pro and can do it in your sleep. Though of course we don’t recommend that. If you still struggle with it after a couple of weeks, ask your orthodontist for a bigger size.
  • The rubber bands come in a small bag and are easy to lose so make sure you always keep them in secure spot which is easy for you to get to at all times. For school age kids, keep them in the smallest zippered pocket in your schoolbag.
  • Make sure you replace your rubber bands daily because they do through a lot of wear and tear, and always replace each side at the same time. Even if just one breaks, replace them both to ensure that the same level of tension is being applied on both sides.
  • Always remove your rubber bands when you eat and when you brush your teeth.

Choosing the Color of Your Rubber Bands

As stated before, the rubber bands for your braces come in a variety of colors. Younger orthodontic patients sometimes like get creative and play around with the color of both their ligatures and their interarch rubber bands. Because they are constantly switched out you can even use the rubber bands to decorate your mouth for Halloween or Christmas.

If you are an adult orthodontic patients, you will probably want to stick to more neutral colors but stay away from black and brown because they make it look like you have food stuck between your teeth. Gray and silver are good neutral colors that won’t easily stained. Clear rubber bands are also another option but you need to watch out for staining from what you eat and drink. The biggest culprits are coffee, tea, soda and wine.

The most important thing to remember is to not give up wearing the rubber bands. If you don’t wear them, you could make your treatment last a lot longer than if you had just listened to your orthodontist. Whether you are the one with the braces or it is your child, complete compliance can sometimes be an issue, but don’t worry, there are ways you can boost compliance.

For yourself, post a reminder to put them in on your bathroom mirror and also make sure you google what happens to your mouth when you have your braces on too long. It is called braces decalcification and it can happen if your treatment progress is delayed and you have to wear your braces for a lot longer than you originally intended.

If it is for your child, try positive reinforcement by offering little treats or rewards for wearing the rubber bands all week. Take them out for ice cream or treat them to dinner at their favorite restaurant. You know your child best, think about what he or she enjoys the most. Whether it is a movie night, or even a new video game, pick something that will give him or her that extra incentive to wear the rubber bands. Help them keep track by keeping a calendar that you fill in together each day.

If that doesn’t work you may need to try negative reinforcement as well and take away favorite things. They will see you mean business if you take away their cell phone for a few days or ground them from hanging out with their friend on the weekend.

Also remind your child not to play around with the braces while in school. Everybody has a story about rubber bands flying across the classroom at some point. No matter how board they are or how sore the rubber bands make their mouth, they need to keep them in to have the best result from their orthodontic care.

Find out more about proper rubber band care by contacting Orthodontics Limited, PC, today.

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