Braces can help treat several oral conditions that can affect your teeth and jaw, using force to shift them to desired positions. When wearing braces, it’s possible that your dentist will ask you to wear rubber bands. Elastics or rubber bands exert added pressure to certain areas which speeds up the treatment.  

In this article, we’ll discuss what purpose rubber bands have for braces, and when you need to wear them. 

What do rubber bands do for braces?

Rubber bands magnify the pressure that braces apply to certain areas of your mouth. Rubber bands are attached to the braces’ brackets and are positioned to meet the treatment requirements. To make them secure they are connected to tiny metal hooks present on the bracket.    

Rubber bands for braces are used for several purposes including reshaping different classes of uneven jaw, such as: 

  • crossbite
  • overbite
  • underbite
  • open bite

Orthodontic elastics can also be used with braces to minimize teeth spacing and to alter their position. One such example is straightening a tooth that’s bending forward or backward. 

Different types of elastics in braces

Force

Rubber bands for braces are categorized by the strength they exert. The exact force in each category can be different for different manufacturers. The 3 classes are:

  • light
  • medium
  • heavy

Size

Elastics are available in different sizes which depend on the amount of stretch needed to work effectively. 

Material

Rubber bands come in two different materials: latex and synthetic. Those made of latex are most commonly used due to their high flexibility and low cost. People with latex allergies can use synthetic bands. 

Usage

Rubber bands can also be categorized based on why they’re being used. 

  • Class I: Placed horizontally, linking the brackets on a single jaw. They can be used to close the teeth gaps. 
  • Class II: Connect lower jaw molars with upper jaw teeth. They can be used to correct severe cases of overbite. This is the gap that occurs between the front upper and lower teeth when a person bites down.  
  • Class III: Can be used to treat underbite by connecting the lower jaw teeth to upper jaw molars
  • Cross: Link the upper jaw teeth with lower ones, going through the front teeth. Can be used to treat crossbite.
  • Vertical: Connect upper jaw teeth with the ones below them on the lower jaw. They can help treat an open bite. 

When do you start wearing elastics for braces?

Your oral condition will decide when you’ll start wearing rubber bands with braces. Your orthodontist may ask you to wear the elastics at the beginning of treatment, while others may wear them at the end.  

Not everyone may use rubber bands during their braces treatment. Your dentist will decide if you need them or not. 

How long do orthodontic rubber bands stay on your braces?

Regular use reduces the elasticity of rubber bands, decreasing the force they can apply on the teeth and jaw. Due to this, you may need to change your rubber bands, sometimes several times a day. Your orthodontist will guide you on when and how often to change your elastics. 

The total amount of time to wear rubber bands varies from person to person. Some may use them for a few weeks while others may use them for months.  

If your dentist has asked you to wear rubber bands with braces, carefully follow the provided instructions to make sure your treatment goes smoothly and as planned.