Thursday, August 25, 2011

What are Rubber Bands for Braces for?

Everyday at least one of our patients will ask, "Why am I wearing these rubber bands?" Patients wear rubber bands for many different reasons. Common reasons are to fix bite problems or to help guide the movement of teeth. Patients for the most part find that wearing their elastics is one of the most annoying parts of braces, but it is also one of the most important parts to getting the teeth straight and to having proper bite.

Why do I wear elastics? These elastics create a small but continuous amount of pressure on the teeth or jaws to move them into more desirable positions. If you wear your elastics as instructed, treatment will be completed more rapidly. When you are wearing your elastics full time, this means 24/7, taking them out only to eat and brush. We ask our patients to switch their elastics 3-4 times daily. Switching them ensures that the elastics will retain their strength, and the force will be steady. Your teeth will be sore when you start wearing your rubber bands, but the better you are with wearing them the sooner the soreness will go away. Just smile through the first few days, and your rubber bands will become easier and easier.

For patients wearing elastics the most difficult time of the day is right after lunch. Patients forget to put their rubbrt bands back in until after they get home from school or until after dinner. Forgetting will bring tooth movement to a halt and extend the amount of time in braces. It takes 10-12hrs for the teeth to start moving when wearing elastics.

Dr. Waxler tells patients their teeth are like semi-trucks. If two vehicles are on the highway and one is a sports car and the other is a semi-truck, they both can do the speed limit but when they have to come to a stop, it only takes the sports car a few seconds to accelerate back up to the 60 miles an hour. The semi-truck takes a lot longer to reach the speed limit. This is why those big trucks don't want to stop if they can avoid it.

Since your teeth are like semi-trucks, the only thing to keep them from stopping their movement is to wear your elastics as instructed. Teeth will stop moving if the elastics are out of the mouth for more then just eating and brushing. We tell our patients to put their elastics on their pinkie fingers when the bands are out of their mouths. When you are finished eating and brushing, you will look down and remember to put them back in