What do orthodontic rubber bands/elastics do?
When a persons bite isn’t right, orthodontists will frequently tell patients to stretch elastics or rubber bands from one brace to another to pull teeth closer together. Braces have posts that are rounded and smoothed extending from their base to above the tie wings. These are made to allow a rubber band to hook on. The posts are smooth so they do not irritate lips or cheeks, pliable to be positioned differently in each person and strong enough to be durable over time.
When the rubber bands are stretched between posts they have an energy to return to their original shape. By pulling on the posts which are attached to the teeth they move the teeth. Different size, width and length, elastics exert different forces over different distances. Forces are determined by your orthodontist to be most effective for each situation and desired movement, In response to the tug, teeth move along a path determined by a guidewire, called an archwire.
Rubber bands are uncomfortable at first as forces are being exerted on teeth. During this brief stage, over-the-counter meds like Tylenol relieve all the dull discomfort. After about 4 days, the discomfort goes away and except for changing the elastics twice a day, there is not special feeling associated with their wear. When the orthodontist’s goals are met and elastics are stopped, there is a tingling sensation as the nerve endings regenerate.
Rubber band wear is a short term effort for a lifetime goal. They are instead of more aggressive therapy. In fact, they are usually the most gentle, conservative and rapid way to get big amounts of tooth movement.
Written by Dr. Randy L. Gittess, Orthodontist, located in Oviedo, Winter Springs, Tuskawilla Florida.
Randy Gittess graduated from Medical College of Virginia in Richmond to become a Doctor of Dental Sergury and later discovered his passion for orthodontics and went on to specialize in Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia where he received his certificate in orthodontics. Dr. Gittess is also Certified as a Diplomate of the American Board of Orthodontics, a special distinction among orthodontists.