Tuesday, February 16, 2016

What's the point of these rubber bands? Do I really have to wear them all the time? What if I double up at night?

Many people who go through orthodontic treatment are required to wear elastics or rubber bands toward the end of their braces.  Elastics are used to help correct a patient's bite into an ideal position.  Whether you are in braces or Invisalign, the importance of elastics is essential. 

At our Akron orthodontic office, Dr. Barnett and Team work tirelessly on patient education to make this point about cooperation clear.  Without a patient doing the work, the end will never be in sight. 
There are different circumstances that could require the use of elastics; such as, an overbite, an underbite, or a crossbite.  Elastics are connected directly onto the brackets on a specialized hook designed to secure the rubber band in place.  They connect from top to bottom.  The pull of the rubber bands helps to move the teeth into the correct positions by stimulating the cells in the bone surrounding the teeth; therefore, the teeth then shift into the new correct position.  This is only successful when the elastics are worn full time, about 21-22 hours a day.  Part time cooperation will never make progress. As the bone begins the process of changing but when not worn consistently, it always has to “begin again.”  Thus no progress is made.
In today’s busy times, we find more and more people struggling with cooperation.  Whether it is forgetting after a meal to replace them, sports or activities that interfere, or just the "annoyance" of wearing rubber bands in general, some people just can't seem to commit.  Patients think that "doubling-up" on elastics will suffice; some will wear two elastics on each side at bed time and wear nothing during the day.  As brilliant as this seems, it does not work.  The teeth need constant light pressure in order to move.     
          Commonly we hear kids say they forget to put them in after lunch.  If you struggle with this, try setting an alarm/reminder on your cell phone to go off after lunch. Another idea is to keep a bag of elastics as a bookmark in your textbook for the first class after lunch. You can also try placing the rubber bands on a finger while snacking.
          If you really cannot commit to the cooperation, talk with your orthodontist about a non-compliant approach to bite correction.  We use a lot of “fixed” appliances to correct bites.  Ultimately though, each individual patient is in charge of his or her future.  Take some ownership to the process and achieve that awesome result!