Riverdale, NY – To get the smile of your dreams, you have to put in a bit of work to ensure that your treatment stays on track. To brushing and flossing frequently, to avoiding certain foods, to maintaining all follow-up appointments, you are an active participant in your treatment. One important facet of treatment to remember is wearing rubber bands.
“Rubber bands are a very important treatment component for many patients,” says Dr. Sam Polan. “Some patients have jaws that are misaligned or that improperly fit together. Rubber bands help us position the upper and/or lower jaws so that the bite is harmonious. This bite-correcting stage of treatment is often the longest and most difficult part of a patient’s treatment.”
To ensure that this stage goes by as quickly as possible, it is important to wear your rubber bands as often as your orthodontist tells you to, and exactly how the orthodontist explains. They should be worn around the clock – only removing them to eat, brush, floss and change to a new set.
You should change out elastics around 3-4 times a day, or at the very minimum, every 12 hours. Dr. Polan likes to recommend that patients change out to a new set every time they brush their teeth. Wearing one set for too long will cause the rubber bands to lose elasticity, which can make them less effective in realigning the jaw.
At the appointment when your orthodontist gives you your rubber bands, he or she will explain exactly where and how to attach the bands. It is important that you place them in the proper location every time. Your orthodontist has perfectly calibrated your treatment with proper elastic wear in mind, so if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask. Your orthodontist wants you to enjoy your new smile as much as you do, so your entire orthodontic treatment is always willing to answer questions or address concerns.
“When you are first placing the rubber bands, you may want to do so in front of a mirror so that you can be sure you are hooking them in the right spot,” says Dr. Polan. “But in no time, you’ll be a pro at it and won’t need to look closely at what you’re doing.”
Braces alone are effective at straightening your smile – closing gaps, fixing overcrowding or other misalignments. But they can’t adjust the jaw, so rubber bands are needed. They allow for the force needed to push or pull the jaw to its ideal location in adolescent patients. This is important because the goal of orthodontic treatment is to create a straighter smile that also functions properly. Rubber bands will help align the bite, ensuring the proper amount of pressure is placed when biting down. A misaligned bite, even if the front teeth look straight, can cause wear and tear that can lead to teeth chipping, cracking or breaking.
Wearing the rubber bands will take a bit of time to get used to. They can feel uncomfortable at first, but the more you wear them, the quicker your mouth will get used to them. If you forget to wear them for a portion of a day, just put new ones in as soon as you remember. Do not double up on rubber bands because that won’t cause the rubber bands to work faster, and instead it could damage your smile. Remember to wear your rubber bands exactly as your orthodontic team explained, and you’ll be on the road to a new, beautiful smile!