Orthodontic braces have three primary components: the bracket, the archwire, and rubber bands (also known as elastics). Each component plays an integral role in correcting an existing bite problem or pressuring teeth into a straighter line. Read on to learn more about how treatment with braces works, including what role rubber bands may play in helping your child to get a straight, properly aligned smile.
Brackets, either metal or clear, are adhered to the front of each tooth. These are made of either stainless steel or clear ceramic. They are attached using glue strong enough to keep the brackets in place, but gentle enough to allow for removal of braces after treatment. The role of the bracket is to hold the archwire in place.
The wire that is threaded through each bracket wrapping around the entire upper and the lower jaw is called an archwire. The archwire puts pressure on the teeth to pressure them into proper alignment.
Two types of rubber bands may be needed for successful orthodontic treatment. The tiny little elastic bands that secure the archwire to each bracket are also known as ligature elastics. Children and teens often like to choose their own color of these bands to customize the appearance of their braces. Clear ligature elastics are also available for children and teens who choose to have clear braces.
There is a second type of rubber band that is often used in pediatric orthodontic treatment. These rubber bands are larger than those that keep the archwire running through each bracket. Instead, these elastics are attached to a bracket on the upper jaw and a bracket on the lower jaw to correct a bite problem. They are often used near the end of treatment with braces, once the teeth are in better alignment. However, rubber bands may be used at any time during treatment to provide extra pressure on teeth to shift into alignment.
What Bite Issues Do Rubber Bands Fix?
The use of rubber bands as part of your child’s orthodontic treatment can help to correct bite problems.
An overbite occurs when the front teeth protrude over the bottom teeth. If not corrected, an overbite may lead to problems including headache, jaw pain, tooth decay, and difficulty fully opening or closing the mouth. Rubber bands are often used with your braces to correct an overbite by affixing one end of the rubber band to a lower molar, and the other end of the band to the bracket on your child’s canine tooth in the upper jaw. This pressure helps to gradually bring the upper jaw into better alignment.
An underbite occurs when the lower teeth protrude too far, with the upper teeth sitting behind the lower teeth. If not corrected, an underbite may lead to difficulty chewing and biting, facial and mouth pain due to jaw misalignment, and problems speaking clearly. Rubber bands are often used in young patients who have an underbite. Oftentimes one end of the rubber band is attached to the brackets on the lower canine teeth, and the other is attached to the first molars on the upper jaw.
An open bite is a less common bite problem than an overbite or underbite. This occurs when both the upper and lower teeth slant outward, leaving a visible vertical gap between the upper and lower teeth even when the mouth is closed. This results in a bite that is “open.” An open bite that is not corrected may lead to speech problems, difficulty biting and chewing food, and excessive wear on the back teeth. Rubber bands are fashioned into a triangle to correct open bites, attaching to the top canines and bottom premolars and canines.
Pediatric and Teen Orthodontics in New Jersey
Tender Smiles 4 Kids provides complete pediatric dentistry and orthodontic treatments to children and teens at five locations in New Jersey. Contact us today to discuss treatment for a problem with your child’s bite, or teeth alignment.
Freehold Office: 732-625-8080
North Brunswick Office: 732-249-1010
Edison Office: 732-549-3773
Roselle Office: 908-245-5556
Ocean Office: 732-774-7008