We all have seen kids and adults in who are in orthodontic treatment connecting rubber bands (we call them “elastics”) to their braces. In addition to the wire that runs through the braces, these elastics are a way of placing forces on teeth to make them move (see the previous blog: “How do braces and Invisalign make teeth move?”). At Meadows Orthodontics, we are constantly educating patients about the importance of wearing elastics consistently as directed by Dr. Dan. Here are why these elastics are so important.
- Elastics move teeth in the direction that is needed to correct your bite. Each patient is instructed to wear elastics according to their individual needs, and we will teach you which teeth to attach the elastics to. These patterns will often change as your treatment progresses, and your teeth have changing needs as you get closer to an ideal bite. Forward and back, side to side, and up and down…where we ask you to hook your elastics determines where your teeth go!
- Wearing your elastics as directed by Dr. Dan makes you finish treatment faster! The number of hours you wear elastics each day is usually the biggest factor in how quickly you get your braces removed. It is currently believed that six hours of constant wear is the minimum time required to initiate the biologic mechanisms that allow teeth to move. But the difference in wearing rubber bands 6 or 12 hours a day vs. 20-24 hours a day could be well over a year extra in braces (or more)! This is so important for patients to understand, and they need to be aware of this from the start. Consistency, consistency, consistency! Also, never “double up” your elastics without being directed to do so- this can damage your teeth or cause unwanted delays.
- Often later in treatment, the braces (after they have initially aligned and leveled your teeth), themselves are just what their name implies, a brace. They are merely holding your teeth in place while elastics are what causes 100% of the desired movement. Sometimes kids will skip several days or weeks thinking that the braces are continuing to move them closer to the goal of getting the braces taken off. The truth is, when the elastics are removed, everything often comes to a screeching halt, or even worse, starts to reverse itself! Don’t let this happen- be consistent. Notice a theme here?
Now that you know how critical it is to wear your elastics, I’ll give you some tips to make wearing them easier and more successful.
-When you first start wearing elastics, your teeth often become sore for a day or two. Your instinct will be to take them off to give your teeth a break, but don’t do this! If they are off too long, all the work you have started can be reversed, and the discomfort will start up again when they are put back on. Instead, keep the elastics on, take Ibuprophen as directed by your orthodontist, and the sensitivity will go away within a day or two. Taking long breaks can cause a cycle of discomfort that never goes away- you are essentially hitting the reset button all the time.
-Keep elastics with you at all times. Place a bag in your backpack for school, have them in your purse or pocket, and have a backup at home or with your parents. Dr. Rejman will gladly provide enough to keep all your bases covered. And if you lose them or run out, call us that day or stop by Meadows Orthodontics and we will give you more!
Dr. Dan Rejman is the owner of Meadows Orthodontics in Castle Rock, Colorado. Dr. Dan is a Board Certified Diplomate of the American Board of Orthodontics, and is the councilman representing the Rocky Mountain and Southwest Orthodontic Societies for the College of Diplomates of the American Board of Orthodontics.