When people think of braces, they usually come up with images of all metal and wire. There’s a reason why people who wear braces often get burdened with the nickname, “metal mouth.” But in fact, there’s a softer side to braces as well. Or, at least a stretchier side. That’s because one of the most important components to braces are actually rubber bands.
You see, while most people think of braces as correcting and moving the placement of the teeth in the mouth, braces are often used for correcting bite issues, too. Bite issues are things like an overbite, underbite or even crossbite. Bite issues happen when a person’s jaws don’t quite line up, and this can have long-term effects.
If a person’s jaw is out of line, this can cause certain teeth to undergo more stress than others. In other words, an overbite can mean that only some teeth (and not others) are used when chewing food, leading to only some teeth getting wear and tear. Over time, those teeth will be ground down more quickly, and might need eventually need replacing, which can be a seriously unpleasant undertaking.
So, what does this have to do with rubber bands and braces?
Braces are a system of brackets and wires that are used to move the teeth around the mouth into a nice and beautiful alignment. But they can also be used to adjust the placement of the jaw, and this is done with the help of rubber bands.
How does these rubber bands work?
Braces rubber bands work by latching on to small hooks found on the brackets that have been affixed to the teeth — one on the top row and one on the bottom row. An orthodontist will instruct the patient exactly which teeth the rubber bands should connect, and this might change month to month.
Normally, an orthodontist will give the patient a bag of small rubber bands. At first, they are highly elastic with a lot of resistance, meaning it may cause some discomfort until the jaw slowly gets used to its new position.
A patient will be told to wear the rubber bands as often as possible, and that basically means always. The only time it’s recommended to remove the rubber bands is when cleaning and brushing the teeth. This means that rubber bands should be latched onto the braces during meals and while sleeping, and all the hours in between.
As mentioned, the rubber bands fresh out of the package will be highly resistant. However, as the day goes on, they get stretched out each time a person’s mouth opens. After a few hours, they start to lose some of their elasticity. Therefore, rubber bands should be changed several times a day in order to get the job done.
By not following the directions from the orthodontist to keep the rubber bands on as much as possible, and hooking them onto the exact teeth as shown, a patient might do more harm than good. At the very least, it will slow down the treatment and cause a person to wear braces for longer than originally planned.
At the worst, it can actually cause damage to the jaw if instructions aren’t followed. For example, if a person puts the rubber bands on the wrong teeth, it can cause the jaw to move in the wrong direction, or too much or too little. This can put certain teeth at risk and can cause unneeded stress to the mouth.
If you have taken the step to have the orthodontic treatment of braces, it’s important to follow the instructions from the orthodontist as closely as possible. While this means proper maintenance, regular check ups and good brushing habits, it might also mean using your rubber bands properly, too.
Perhaps you are considering braces for yourself or someone in your family. At South Surrey Smiles, we are here to help. Consider calling us for a consultation today. Our amazing staff will answer any questions you have, or will set you up with an appointment with an orthodontist. Just think, that bright, healthy smile you’ve always wanted is just a few steps away!