Traditional braces use metal brackets and wires – everyone knows that. But you may be curious as to what the colorful little rubber bands that are placed around the brackets are used for. They may be cute, but do they really serve a purpose? The short answer to that is yes, they are! If you have braces, your orthodontist may also hook these elastics on an upper and lower bracket, restricting jaw movement. It may seem like a weird, arbitrary and even inconvenient addition to your braces, but it’s actually very important to the process. To learn more about what these bands accomplish, read more below!
What are elastics?
The elastics or little rubber bands are used to connect the archwire to the brackets. Without them, the pressure exerted by the wires wouldn’t affect your teeth as well. Your orthodontist will replace these every time your braces are tightened or adjusted because they lose elasticity over time.They’re an essential part of traditional braces, so if one happens to pop off, contact your orthodontist immediately! This could change the alignment of the wires against your teeth.
When the elastics are wound between an upper and lower bracket, the doctor is most likely trying to realign your bite and jaw position. Therefore, these are called interarch elastics. While they do make it difficult to speak and chew, it’s important to keep them on as much as possible. Your orthodontist will give you plenty of replacement bands to change them out, so you can stay clean and your bands can stay tight.
Why do I need interarch elastics?
Interarch elastics are used to fix common malocclusions, such as underbites, overbites, and crossbites. Even with straight teeth, your smile could be uneven due to an improper bite. An incorrect alignment of the jaws could also lead to serious complications, such as TMD, poor dental hygiene, bruxism, tooth wear, and more. The interarch elastics will help guide the jaw into place, so the teeth line up correctly. There’s a large variety of interarch elastic arrangements to correct your bite, so not everyone’s interarch elastics will look the same. Your orthodontist could use multiple bands, cross them, or combine them. It all depends on the individual!
How do I take care of them?
It can be a little cumbersome to have elastics constricting your mouth all the time, but remember it’s only temporary! While you have them on, take good care of them and use them consistently or else you may delay results and extend treatment time. You can take them off for meals, snacks & drinks, or during your dental hygiene routine as long as you remember to replace the bands promptly after. Your orthodontist will give you a lot of replacement bands, so you can use a new pair after every time you take them out. Interarch elastics can easily harbor harmful bacteria and become loose if they’re left in the mouth too long. Even if you don’t need to take them out, they should be replaced and your mouth should be cleaned every 8 – 10 hours. After use, they can simply be disposed in the trash.
We hope that gave you more insight about your orthodontic treatment! Remember, not everyone has the same treatment, so your doctor may not even recommend interarch elastics. As long as you take care of the rubber bands you do have in your mouth, your treatment should be working effectively. If you have more questions about braces, give us a call or make an appointment with Newpark Orthodontics! We’re always happy to meet new patients or help returning ones.