Did you know that metal braces alone cannot correct bite problems? While metal braces work well for aligning the teeth, they need some extra help when it comes to aligning the bite. To correct bite alignment problems, also known as malocclusion, your orthodontist will likely recommend the use of interarch rubber bands.
Interarch rubber bands are used in coordination with metal braces in order to correct malocclusion such as overbites, underbites, cross bites, and open bites. They do so by spanning across the top and bottom arches. However, it is not as simple as just taking any rubber band and placing it on the brackets. Rather, there are specific types of bands, as well as different sizes that must be used to obtain the desired results.
There are four different types of interarch rubber bands and each different type is designed to correct a specific type of malocclusion. Depending on the type of malocclusion present, your dentist may opt to use one or more of the following types:
Class II rubber bands are used to treat overbites. One end of the band is placed on the upper canine tooth, while the other end is placed on the lower first molar. This creates a force that brings the upper jaw back towards the rest of the mouth to reduce the overbite.
Class III rubber bands are used to treat underbites. One end of the bad is placed on the upper first molar and the other is placed on the lower canine. They are basically arranged in the opposite direction of Class II rubber bands. This arrangement pulls the lower jaw backwards to correct an underbite.
Front Cross Elastics
Like their name suggests, front cross elastics span across the front of the mouth and are used to correct midline alignment. One end of the band is placed on the upper canine on one side of the mouth and the lower canine on the opposite side. How the band is placed will depend on the type of movement needed to correct the midline alignment.
Vertical elastics are used to close open bites or to bring the upper and lower arch of teeth together. They are generally arranged in a triangular pattern with the top on the upper canine and the two bottom points on the lower canine and first premolar.
In addition to the different types of rubber bands, there are also different sizes that may be used. The different sizes of rubber bands determine the amount of force they exert. Depending on the type and extent of the movement needed, your orthodontist will select the best size to accomplish this. Due to the specificity of the type and size of interarch rubber bands, they cannot be substituted for other types of rubber bands.
If your orthodontist has decided that interarch rubber bands are necessary for your treatment, they will place tiny hooks on your brackets to make it easy to place and remove the bands. They will also show you how to put in and remove the bands. Most of the time, you will need to wear them full time, but some may only need to be worn at night. It is important that you wear these bands as directed by your orthodontist to achieve the desired effect.
Overall, interarch rubber bands are an important part of orthodontic treatment with metal braces. They allow your orthodontist to gradually align your bite and can reduce or eliminate problems such as overbite, underbite, open bite, and crossbite, depending on the type and size of the band. However, this is contingent on you wearing the bands as directed. While rubber bands can be irritating, the final result is a beautiful smile with an aligned bite.
Dr. Williams is current with all of the latest techniques and theories in the practice of orthodontics and is an active member of the American Association of Orthodontists. He is dedicated to providing the highest quality of orthodontic care to every patient.