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How do orthodontic elastic bands help?

Orthodontic elastic bands are often used with dental braces for tooth correction. There are essentially two different types of elastic bands for dental braces: Alastics are used to secure the wire on the brackets - these are also the rings that wrap around the brackets. Elastics, on the other hand, are elastic bands that provide support while the teeth or jaws are moving, and are used, for example, when treating retrusive occlusion. Patients can put them in and take them out themselves and can therefore take on a great deal of personal responsibility to ensure their treatment runs smoothly.

Effect of braces with elastics

Elastics are available in various sizes and strengths, i.e. they can be used individually for each patient. Orthodontists use elastics for fixed braces to exert extra pressure on one or more teeth and to move them in position. A brace with elastics can also adjust the jaw, for instance for indications such as a crossbite, end-to-end bite, retrusive occlusion or overbite. 

A distinction is also made between use in only one jaw (intramaxillary) and use in both jaws (intermaxillary). If you do not wear the elastics regularly, this may delay treatment progress. This places a great deal of responsibility on the patient. 

How long do you need to wear orthodontic elastics?

You should wear elastics exactly as specified by your dentist. In most cases, it is not enough to wear them overnight. It is often recommended that you wear the orthodontic elastics for 24 hours a day for the best possible treatment outcome. The orthodontic elastics are only removed for cleaning or eating.

Braces: Change the elastics yourself?

If you have elastics, then changing them is part of your daily routine. After eating you should put the elastics back in as instructed by the dentist. To maintain the tension, it is advisable to regularly use new elastics (at least 1x a day). Alastics, on the other hand, are only changed in the dental practice. 

Fixed braces: Replacing elastics

While inserting the orthodontic elastics may appear somewhat complicated at first, this will soon become routine. There are various techniques for positioning these – for example, in a triangle, criss-cross, doubled, and so on. If you are not sure, it is best to ask your orthodontist for advice. To help you remember the positions you can ask for a diagram or take a photo.

How often do you need to change the orthodontic elastics?

The orthodontic elastics should be changed regularly to ensure optimum tension on the teeth and so they do not stretch out of shape. You should therefore change them at least once a day or even more often than that.

Pain caused by orthodontic elastics

Elastics exert additional pressure on your teeth along with the brace and can sometimes therefore be painful. Tense muscles are just as common as an inability to move the lower jaw. To prevent the elastics causing pain, you can regularly massage your jaw muscles for a few minutes to relax them. Targeted exercises can also release tension around the mouth. To keep your chewing muscles active, when the elastics are removed you can try opening your mouth as wide as possible and then closing it. 

If you find it painful when you insert the orthodontic elastics, discuss the problem with your doctor. 

Discolored orthodontic elastics 

It is quite normal for your orthodontic elastics to discolor with use. For example, some foods stain (such as tomatoes) and just one bite can change the color of your elastics and alastics. The color also fades after a certain time, which is a sign that the elastics have lost their elasticity and should be replaced.

Where can you buy elastics for your braces?

Usually, you do not need to buy your own orthodontic elastics; your orthodontist will provide them. If you do run out between appointments, you can buy orthodontic elastics for braces online. But do make sure that you choose the right length and strength.


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