Wires and braces straighten the teeth. But wires and braces don’t do much for the bite. Instead, rubber bands or elastics move the teeth to allow a good bite. In other words, rubber bands interdigitate the bite.
Most Americans have an overbite that requires rubber bands worn one way: to move upper teeth back. A smaller group of Americans have an underbite that require rubber bands worn the opposite way: to move lower teeth backward.
So, regardless where your teeth are — underbite or the more common overbite — please follow instructions for rubber band wear from your orthodontist. Only this cooperation allows efficient correction of your bite. In fact, how long you’re in braces depends more on your cooperation with rubber bands than any other factor.
If you’re not sure, go ahead and wear the rubber bands 23/7. Sometimes you’ll be asked to only wear rubber bands at night, but most of the time we need you to wear rubber bands 90-95% of the time (only remove during meals) to achieve an ideal and timely result!
A great outcome finished on time or early is a win-win situation that will not only make you smile. Your parents and the orthodontic team will also be grinning ear to ear! So, let’s hear it for rubber bands!!!
Have a look in the mirror at your new braces. As you see, the brackets and wires have many nooks and crannies that can trap food and plaque. This means your risk of tooth decay and gum problems may be higher while you are wearing braces.
You need to pay special attention to cleaning your teeth everyday and to your diet. Permanent damage to tooth enamel can occur if the teeth and brackets are not kept clean.
Areas on the enamel surface may begin to lose minerals (the early stage of tooth decay), leaving unsightly white spots. You may also develop inflamed, bleeding gums (gingivitis). Gingivitis and the early stages of tooth decay can be reversed by taking extra care with your cleaning and diet. If left untreated, they can lead to bigger problems that will require treatment and have life-long effects. While you are having orthodontic treatment, you need to continue to have regular check-ups with your family dental professional to ensure little problems don’t become big ones.
This patient below has significant decalcification or white spots on the upper teeth:
This patient below has not only white spots, but also several cavities that must be filled by the dentist ASAP.
So, keep those teeth clean while we straighten and align your bite. You don’t want straight teeth that have been harmed by poor oral care. We don’t see outcomes like this (images above) often, but they do occur (unfortunately!) from time to time.