7 Things to Keep in Mind About Rubber Bands in Braces Including Their Pain

rubber bands braces pain

If you’ve never worn braces before, they can take some getting used to — to say the least. The presence of braces in your mouth introduces a new sensation and can initially feel awkward or even uncomfortable. The brackets, wires, and other components of traditional braces can make eating, speaking, and even smiling feel different than what you’re used to. What’s more, many orthodontists will also provide you with rubber bands to wear with your braces. These small elastic bands might seem insignificant, and you may be a little reluctant to wear them at first, but they serve an important purpose.

Rubber bands for braces (also known as inter-arch elastics or ligatures) are designed to exert additional force and tension on your teeth and jaws. They work together with your braces to apply targeted pressure, which is meant to facilitate the movement and alignment of your teeth. These bands are typically attached to specific brackets or hooks on your braces and connect the upper and lower arches of your teeth. They’re specifically designed to help correct severe orthodontic issues — such as misalignments, overbites, underbites, or crossbites.

Rubber bands for braces are often misunderstood, which is why today’s blog post will be a deep dive into the facts. Let’s get started, shall we?

Rubber Bands Provide Your Braces With a Little Extra Help

While braces and aligners work to straighten teeth independently, sometimes additional forces are required to achieve proper alignment of the upper and lower teeth. This is where rubber bands come into play. They provide the necessary force to encourage specific tooth movements. Of course, orthodontic rubber bands differ from regular elastics or hair ties. They are made from durable, medical-grade latex (or alternative materials for those with latex allergies) that are safe for oral use and don’t irritate the gums. If you have traditional metal or clear braces, the rubber bands will typically be attached to hooks on the brackets. They sometimes cause minor pains as well, but we’ll get to that later.

You’ll Need to Wear Your Rubber Bands in a Specific Way Depending on the Outcome You Want to Achieve

The placement of your rubber bands will depend entirely on what your desired outcome is. For example, if you want to correct your overbite, the elastics would typically be stretched from the hooks on the upper canine teeth to the hooks on the bottom first molars. For an underbite, the rubber bands would run from the lower front teeth to the upper back teeth. Rubber bands can also be configured in different shapes — usually triangles or rectangles, and they can be positioned across the front of your mouth as well. They’re pretty versatile!

You’ll Need to Wear Your Rubber Bands Most of the Time

Typically, rubber bands should be worn around 23 hours a day. You should really only remove them when you eat, brush, floss, and (if applicable) when you wear a mouthguard at night. Make sure not to stretch them out too much when attaching them to your braces, and carry extra rubber bands around with you in case one or both of them break (it happens).

We’d also advise you to refrain from removing your elastics if your teeth are sore, as constantly taking them off and putting them back on again resets the adjustment period and may prolong your discomfort or cause pain. Don’t worry, you’ll get used to your rubber bands soon enough!

You Should Not Double Up On Rubber Bands

Attempting to speed up this process by doubling up on rubber bands or modifying them in any way is also strongly discouraged. This is because excessive pressure can harm your teeth and roots, which will leave you with a whole new set of painful and expensive problems to deal with.

In case of any confusion or shortage of rubber bands, we’d recommend contacting your orthodontist’s office. It’s also important to note that using random rubber bands that weren’t specifically provided by your orthodontist is widely considered to be unsafe and ineffective. Your orthodontic treatment is customized to your specific needs, after all!

Success Will Often Depend on Patient Compliance

The success of using rubber bands with your braces will rely heavily on how compliant you are with following the directions your orthodontist gives you. You absolutely must wear your rubber bands consistently and as instructed by your orthodontist if you want to see results. Deviating from the prescribed wear time or not changing your rubber bands as directed can significantly impede your progress and prolong the duration of your overall treatment. This definitely isn’t ideal, so you’ll want to make a conscious effort to follow your orthodontist’s instructions as closely as you can.

You Must Remove Your Rubber Bands Before Brushing and Flossing

Proper oral hygiene is always important, but when you’re wearing rubber bands, it’s something you need to be extra careful about. It’s crucial that you remove your rubber bands before brushing and flossing your teeth, as your rubber bands could potentially prevent you from being able to properly clean your teeth otherwise. This will also help to prevent the buildup of plaque and reduce the risk of tooth decay and gum problems.

There Will Be Temporary Discomfort — Just Remember That It’s Temporary

It is commonly thought that the rubber bands’ of braces cause pain. Initially, wearing rubber bands may cause some discomfort or soreness. This is totally normal and is to be expected as your teeth and jaw adjust to the added pressure of the rubber bands. You can rest assured, however, that this discomfort usually goes away within a few days as your mouth adapts. If you’re still feeling extreme discomfort after several days or weeks, you should contact your orthodontist immediately.

Final Thoughts

One of the most important things you’ll want to keep in mind is that you must not give up on wearing your rubber bands — even if they hurt your mouth initially. Again, this discomfort will subside with time, and taking out your rubber bands when you’re not supposed to will only make your overall treatment take longer. Serious pain from rubber bands in braces, however, is a completely different story, and should be addressed as it appears.

Do you feel like rubber bands for braces might be right for you? Contact Orthodontics Limited in Philadelphia to set up a consultation with an orthodontic dentist today.