How Do Rubber Bands on Braces Work?

How Do Rubber Bands on Braces Work?

Did you ever wonder what the orthodontist was thinking when deciding that putting rubber bands on metal brackets in a teenager’s mouth was necessary? What purpose could they possibly have, and how will you get the average teen to use them correctly — and even continue to wear them when around their friends?

Rubber bands on braces have been around for decades, so they must be an important part of the whole braces process. Braces have several components, rubber bands playing an integral role. Here is the breakdown of the pieces and parts that make up the metal in your mouth:

  • The brackets are the square metal or stainless steel pieces that are glued or bonded to your teeth. There are also ceramic, tooth-colored brackets sometimes used on front teeth to be less noticeable. Clear plastic brackets are commonly used as well.
  • A wire is fed through the brackets. This is called the archwire. The purpose of the archwire is to apply pressure that, in turn, makes the teeth move.
  • There is a little rubber band wrapped around each individual bracket that holds the archwire in place. These small rubber bands are called ligatures. These are changed each time there is an adjustment in the braces or the archwire is tightened. Kids often don’t mind because they can select a different color each time they come in for an adjustment. The ligatures are not removable by the patient.

The last piece of the braces package is the removable rubber bands or interarch bands. Certain brackets will have hooks that these rubber bands are placed around, usually connecting a bracket on a top tooth with a bracket on a bottom tooth. The purpose of these rubber bands is to aid in adjusting how the teeth are positioned in your mouth and help align your jaw. These rubber bands must be taken out to eat or to brush your teeth. Also, because the elasticity has to be consistent, the bands must be changed on a daily basis.

Not everyone who has braces will have to have rubber bands. If their bite does not need correcting, there will be no need for the removable bands.

Here are some tips for wearing your rubber bands correctly:

  • Your rubber bands will come in a very small plastic bag that is easy to misplace. A good spot for kids to keep the bag is in a small zippered pocket in your backpack so it doesn’t get lost.
  • Try to change out the rubber bands at about the same time every day. If one breaks (they will), change out the bands on both sides to keep the same tension. 
  • Make sure to remove the rubber bands when you eat or brush your teeth.
  • The more consistent you are with wearing the bands, the faster your teeth will respond.

If you have any questions about how to put on the rubber bands or about their care, give an orthodontist,  like an orthodontist in San Clemente, CA, a call and he or she will answer your questions.

Thanks to John Redmond Orthodontics for their insight into how rubber bands work with braces.