Austin, TX – When it comes to getting the smile of your dreams, there are a few different methods an orthodontist needs to employ. Braces are used to straighten the teeth by guiding them into their ideal positions. But orthodontics is about much more than just a straight, pretty smile – it is also about creating a bite that functions properly, too. And for some patients, that requires the use of rubber bands with their braces.
“Rubber bands can help improve the fit of a patient’s upper and lower jaw,” says Dr. Chris Stansbury of Wired Orthodontics. “In order to ensure your bite functions the way it should, it has to be aligned properly. Rubber bands are used during what we call the bite-fixing stage of treatment, and this phase can often be the longest and most difficult part of a patient’s treatment.”
In order to ensure your treatment stays on track and you get your braces off on time, it is very important that you wear your elastic, or rubber bands, exactly as your orthodontist recommends.
Elastics should be worn all day, 24 hours a day. That means they should be worn when you play, sleep, go to school, and go to work. Rubber bands should only be removed to eat, brush, floss and to change out to a new set.
Elastics should be changed approximately 3-4 times a day, but at the very least, every 12 hours. A good rule of thumb is to replace them every time you brush and floss your teeth. Wearing them for too long will cause them to lose elasticity, so they won’t be as effective at realigning the jaw.
Your orthodontic team will show you where to place the rubber bands. It is important that you pay close attention to the exact location of where they should attach. Attaching them to the wrong tooth could alter your treatment. If you have any questions, be sure to ask them at your appointment. Your orthodontist wants you to be an active participant in your treatment, so never hesitate to ask a question to clarify something that you don’t understand.
In the beginning, it can be helpful to have a mirror handy so you can see what you are doing. This will ensure you are attaching rubber bands to the proper teeth. In no time, you’ll be so used to it, you won’t need to look anymore.
“Rubber bands are a crucial part of orthodontic treatment for many patients,” says Dr. Stansbury. “If you don’t follow your orthodontist’s directions on how to wearing them, you may see your treatment time extended.”
The elastics may feel uncomfortable at first, but your mouth will adjust to them quickly. If you only wear them every once in a while, however, your mouth will never get the chance to adjust. Wear them around the clock, exactly as your orthodontist explains.
If you do forget to wear your elastics one day, simply put new rubber bands in as soon as you remember. Don’t double up on rubber bands – this won’t actually speed up treatment, and may actually harm your smile.
If at any time during your treatment, you have questions about how to wear your elastics, ask your orthodontic team. Wearing your rubber bands is an important piece of your treatment and will ensure your treatment stays on track.