If you have gotten a professional consultation from an orthodontist, you may have been given rubber bands for braces; lots of doctors recommend using rubber bands in conjunction with braces to help straighten teeth quicker. These rubber bands play a specific role in expediting the process of correcting tooth directions and helping your teeth grow straight.
The Role of Rubber Bands in Braces
The purpose of rubber bands in orthodontic treatments is to put pressure on the teeth in a specific direction or “vector” to help make them straighter. Rubber bands can also be used to correct and overbite or an under bite. The rubber bands can be more effective than just a regular set of braces, and using them can cut down on the amount of time needed for corrective straightening.
Drawbacks of Rubber Bands
Some patients report some common issues with using rubber bands for orthodontic purposes. One restriction is that patients generally can’t eat solid foods while wearing the rubber bands, which means that they are often only worn at night or taken off during meals, which can be a time-consuming process. For some, there’s also an issue with rubber bands snapping depending on jaw behavior and how wide the wearer opens his or her mouth.
In addition, rubber bands can cause pain for some orthodontic patients. Some report that the rubber bands rub against the cheeks, causing the inside of the mouth to get “raw” and irritated. Another common side effect of wearing the rubber bands is jaw pain, depending on whether the bands are lined up correctly and whether the amount of pressure is effective (or excessive). Most patients will benefit from using the rubber bands, but it’s a good idea to look out for negative impact that these and other orthodontic equipment may cause.
Helping with Rubber Bands
For some patients, using a kind of wax product provided by their doctors helps lessen the abrasive nature of the rubber bands. Some doctors might even recommend over-the-counter anti-inflammatory or pain medications for patients who are having problems with their rubber bands. In addition, experts also recommend watching for any issues with braces that can impact the gum line and cause more bacteria to collect there. (Those with experience will also point out that it’s a good idea to be especially vigilant about any areas of the gum line that may tend to get neglected because of the braces or rubber bands, and that includes careful attention to flossing). If you experience jaw pain or other symptoms indicating that the pressure of the rubber bands is excessive, go back to the orthodontist for a consultation on appropriate follow-up care.
Talking to your dentist and orthodontist will help you find out about all of the risks and benefits of any dental procedure. Ask questions about your braces, including how rubber bands are supposed to work for your specific personal dental plan and whether the amount of pressure is right for your teeth.