What are elastics and why are they important?

Why do orthodontists use elastics with braces? Rubber bands or orthodontic elastics are used for orthodontic treatment and have a very important role in bringing about optimum teeth movement.

 Types of elastics

There are two types of elastics primarily-

1.Ligatures- Braces are composed of brackets (that are stuck on the teeth) and archwires (that run between the brackets). Ligatures are tiny elastics that are placed by the orthodontist on the brackets to secure the archwires in their place.

2.
Inter-arch elastics- These rubber bands are slightly bigger when compared to ligatures. They can be placed in different patterns depending on the type of misalignment that is being treated. Mostly, they are placed extending from one arch to the other (upper to lower teeth). That is why they are called inter-arch elastics.

 Why are they important?

While the archwires and brackets perform their function of pulling the teeth into the desired position, elastics works on fixing the bite. Straight teeth are not enough. They should be aligned in a way that can set your bite right! Fixing the bite happens when rubber bands apply pressure on various points on the jaw. This is a lengthy procedure with no short-cuts and demands complete cooperation from the patients. This step of correcting the bite and fixing it in its new position determines the duration of the treatment. So, if the patient wears the elastics as directed by the orthodontist, he can take off his braces soon without undue delay!

Tips on how to wear elastics effectively

  • Wear them always. Not every case needs elastics. In the cases which require elastics to be worn, your orthodontist may ask you to wear them 24/7. This means that you are having your food with your elastics on. Your chewing movements help the elastics to align your teeth into a correct biting pattern.
  • Change them as instructed. You will be asked to change your elastics a couple of times every day. Remember to change them even if they are not broken as elastics lose their strength after few hours.
  • Never overdo it. Never place double elastics with the hopes of finishing the treatment fast.
  • Never stop wearing due to soreness. You may experience soreness due to the rubber bands during the initial days. That should never deter you from wearing them. The ache is due to the force that is applied by the elastics on your teeth. Pain is a sign that your teeth are moving to their new positions correctly.

Wearing elastics may appear tedious and cumbersome initially. Think of them as a routine form of exercise that will help you build a beautiful smile when done with sheer determination!

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