One of the most important factors in obtaining a healthy bite when in orthodontic treatment, whether you are in braces or invisalign, is often the use of elastics. We use these rubber bands to correct many types of bites that are not fitting correctly, and to make things as stable and healthy long term. This article is a short guide to help understand what specific elastics do, and why wearing them consistently, and as directed by tour orthodontist is so important.
Always on the mind of patients is, “When are my braces coming off?”. The one thing that impacts the speed of treatment the most is how many hours a day elastics are worn (if directed), and how consistent they wear them from day to day. For example, if I estimate that treatment will take 18-22 months, this is assuming that the patient will be excellent with compliance if we request them to wear elastics 20-23 hours a day (say to correct an open bite- more about this below). If the patient skips several days a week, or only wears the elastics 12, 16, 18… hours a day, the amount of time they will be in braces or invisalign to correct the bite will likely increase significantly. This is so important for a patient (and their parents) to understand from the beginning of treatment. Another important thing for parents to keep in mind; the pre-teen and teen mind is often not wired for truly understanding and grasping the consequences of this concept. I have had four kids of my own in braces. Three of them wore elastics great and finished as estimated or sooner. The fourth struggled with remembering to wear the elastics, and his treatment time was nearly double the others!
Lets go over what elastics are actually doing to correct specific bites. The important thing to remember here is that when you start with elastics, they ARE the treatment- the braces at that point are just a scaffolding while the rubber bands cause the movement.
- Class II elastics: These are worn to move your upper teeth back, and the lower teeth forward
- Class III elastics: These are worn to move the lower teeth back, and the upper teeth forward
- Box elastics: Move the upper and lower teeth towards one another, often to correct open bites
These are just several of the most common elastics. Other options other than elastics, or used in conjunction with elastics, are fixed springs inside the mouth, headgear, Forsus, functional appliances, and facemasks. I will let you know what will work the best for your specific case if we use more than just elastics. The one common factor in all of these is consistency of wear, so do your part to make your treatment as fast and efficient as possible!
Dr. Dan Rejman practices as a full time, board certified orthodontic specialist in Castle Rock, Colorado. Please call if you have any questions about your or your child’s bite, esthetics, or developmental issues.