Why You Have to Have Rubber Bands On Each Tooth With Braces

Why You Have to Have Rubber Bands On Each Tooth With Braces

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Rubber Bands Brackets Braces
©Draw05/Shutterstock.com

Louise, a reader from Pennsylvania recently wrote in to ask why you need to have rubber bands on each individual tooth with a bracket on it.  Here’s what she asked:

Rubber Bands on BracesWhy do some people have rubber bands around each individual piece of metal on each tooth when they have braces?  I thought that rubber bands were used to try to pull two or more teeth together, so it doesn’t really make sense to me that a rubber band would just be on one tooth since it can’t really provide any force that way to move teeth.

Louise’s question is a very good one!

First, let’s have a close look at just one of those brackets with the rubber band around it:

Pink Rubber Bands on Braces

The reason the young woman in this picture needs those rubber bands around each bracket is to hold the wire inside the bracket. There are a couple main types of brackets used for braces: Those that snap shut to hold the wire in, and those that need a rubber band to hold the wire in.  Some types of braces that require a rubber band to secure them to the wire use just one long rubber band that goes in figure-8’s around all of the teeth in an arch.

Either way, it is very important to hold the wire inside the bracket since the wire is what controls the movement of the teeth in most orthodontic cases.  Without it the wire would not be secured.  So, you see, the answer to Louise’s question is pretty straightforward.

Do you have any questions about braces or any other dental topic?  Just use the ask a question form and send it to me.  I will either respond via email or feature your question on Oral Answers!

As always, if you have any comments or questions about this article, you can leave a comment below!

46 COMMENTS

  1. Hello.

    One of the elastic bands (on the bottom row) that holds down the wire in my brackets broke and the wire has moved down my teeth. Unfortunately, my dentist isn’t available for a week…would the one week affect anything?

    • Hi Nancy – One week might affect it slightly, but once you get back to your dentist and the wire is placed back inside the bracket, it should move right back where it needs to be. Things like this happen all the time. I wouldn’t be too worried about it.

      Thanks for commenting!

    • HI Nancy,
      Don’t worry about it. The same thing happened to me, the wire came out of the braces and my dentist wasnt availible for a week as well. It hurt your gums a bit but just suck on ice or eat ice cream and the pain will go.
      Hope everything goes well for you!
      Gege
      x

  2. For some reason I just noticed that one of brackets has two elastic bands on it. One one
    One side of the bracket and the other on the other side of the bracket. Not one just going around the whole bracket like the rest. Is this normal? Or just a mistake?

    • Hi Emily – I’m not quite sure why you would have two bands on one bracket. Did your orthodontist give you rubber bands to put in yourself to help move your teeth?

      It may be normal, depending on the type of braces that you have. Ask your orthodontist next time you go in to have your braces adjusted and leave another comment to let us know why you have two bands on one bracket. You’ve got me curious now! Thanks for your comment, Emily.

    • You probably already got the answer to your question from your orthodontist, but if not then I believe what you are talking about is the figure 8. That’s what my orthodontist calls it anyway. It is a tighter way to put a band around the tooth and keep it in place. When you do look at the single bracket, it looks like you have two bands on it but it is just one.

  3. hello Tom ,
    i just finished my first month with braces and i went to the my dr. last week and he changed my wire’s (both up and down)…..i noticed after that my 2 front teeth r going back to what they used to be so i took a closer look and the band fell off from one !!! what should i do ?? i cant go to the dr. cuz he is away for almost a week and i am afraid that my teeth will go back towhat they used to be,or it will hurt me or sth !! cuz i am a diabatic too..i have ceramic barces

    jassmin

    • Hi Jassmin – Your orthodontist should be able to glue the bracket back onto your tooth. It will probably take a bit longer to get it straightened out. Just to be safe, I’d give him/her a call to let them know next time you come in.

      For more information on this and other problems that can happen with braces, you can read an informative article by Dr. Dean Brandon about common problems that occur with braces. He even addresses what happened to yours. Thanks for your comment!

  4. hi,
    i just got my braces tightened and my wire has two weird curves on it
    kind of like the girl in the picture has (on the right of the picture)
    and i was just wondering what does that do?

    • Hi Ashley – Those curves are called loops. Loops are usually put in the braces wire as another way to help close spaces.

      Here is a helpful diagram that goes over the many parts of your braces. I hope that helps. If you have any other questions, let me know.

      Have a Happy New Year!

    • Hi Anna – The best way to brush your teeth with braces is to simply spend the extra time to make sure that you’re brushing all around your brackets. It’s easy to get plaque stuck where the bracket and tooth are bonded together. Another important thing to remember is that you need to use a floss that will go below the wire to clean between your teeth and down around your gum-line. You can do this with floss threaders or dental floss designed for this purpose such as Glilde Threader Floss.

  5. Hey Tom,

    One of my bands came off a bracket, it’s right in the front and looks kind of silly, I cant see my orthodontist for a while and the band didn’t actually brake, is there any way I could put the band back on? I would really appreciate your help.

    • Hi Nellie – There are special instruments to put the bands on the brackets that your orthodontist has. You might be able to get it back on, but there’s a chance that you might put some stress on the wire and put some different forces on your teeth, which may cause them to move differently than your orthodontist has planned. Your best bet is to call your orthodontist and see what they want you to do. Since the band is off, the wire probably moved out a little and is no longer straightening that tooth.

      I hope that helps, Nellie. Let me know if you have any other questions.

  6. A few questions….
    1. I only have braces on 12 teeth on the top and 12 on the bottom, leaving 2 in the back on each side, is this wierd? Why wouldn’t they be all the way back? My guess was because the back ones are straight?
    2. I too have loops above some of my teeth but they seem to be the ones that are most crowded. I have a situation where one of my teeth is further up on my gums and sticking further out and one is pushed back behind the teeth (well if I didn’t have an underbite WOULD be behind the rest of the teeth). From what I’ve been reading these are to close gaps and this is the MOST crowded part of my mouth.
    3. They told me I will have to wear rubberbands later on in my treatment but I see nothing on any of my braces that could attach a band to, would it ever happen that they replace those brackets without the band hooks later with ones that have it?
    Thanks,
    Jess

    • Hi Jess – Keep in mind that as a dental student, our orthodontics experience is limited – I’ll do my best, though!

      1 – I would think that your back teeth may be in the correct alignment. If you’re younger, your orthodontist may want to wait until they fully come in to attach braces to them.
      2 – I believe that these loops allow the orthodontist to move your teeth, not just close gaps. They could help move your teeth into proper alignment and make room for all of your teeth.
      3 – Your orthodontist was probably referring to the bigger rubber bands that you use to attach the lower teeth to the upper teeth. In your case, it seems like these would be used to help push your lower teeth in and move your upper teeth out to get rid of your underbite.

      I hope that helps, Jess. Let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks for your comment!

  7. Hey Tom,
    I’m 12 years old and getting braces july 16th, and how do you know if you get to choose the colors or not. I REALLY want colors. So how should i know…. :) please help me.

    • Hi Avery – The best way to know is to ask your orthodontist if they will be using brackets that need ligatures (the colored bands) or if you will get self-ligating braces (the ones that have metal doors and don’t need colored bands.)

      That’s the only reliable way to find out. I hope that helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks for your comment, Avery!

  8. hi im 11 years old and i am definitely getting braces but i dont know when and i REALLY want colours but since i live in cromwell which is a really small place in nz i have to go to alexandra and since thats small as well the orthodontist only comes once a month from dunedin. he said that i have at least 2 missing teeth (premolars i think) possibly 4 and i have to get the baby ones pulled out and i was wondering do i have to get them pulled out before or after the braces get put on. also my cousin in chch has got braces but she had to get 3 adult teeth pulled out and one surgically pulled through. she got the braces before the teeth came out so will that be the same for me? ( ps her teeth were way wonkier than mine are!)

    • Hi Marikit – My guess is that you will probably get the baby teeth pulled out before braces, but it depends on how your orthodontist plans your case. There’s more than one way to treatment plan a patient! I hope everything goes well with your braces. Let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks for your comment, Marikit!

  9. I Im blanca and i have a question
    I have braces for 1 year 1/2 ans i stop going To My Dentist becUse i loose My Job so i go To eBay and buy My own elastic chain and i put it on by My self but My question is can i put the Chain on top also bcause i just To have the other caind of elastics??
    And also i have an open bite ans cross bite did u think u can help me
    Thank you

  10. 2 of the coloured rubber bands on my bracket came off and my next dental appointment is in 3 weeks time. Should i go back to get it fixed or wait until my next appointment?

  11. Dear Tom,

    I may need braces but I don’t know yet and I am really
    scared because my friend told me that they numb your mouth
    to put them in.Also I was wandering if u could get your
    name on your braces???????

    • It won’t be anything like the shots it is just a gel. You won’t even notice it. Just enough so u don’t feel anything. You won’t even feel numb. I dont think there is anyway to get your name tho… I just got mine on today and it didn’t even hurt. I’m very glad too. Good luck!

    • Hi Grace! You may already have braces by no but i got mine on in July 2011. They didn’t put any numbing gel or shots or anything. It doesn’t hurt when they put them on but later that day it starts to hurt. Just take some Motrin and the pain will go away.
      Ummm I don’t think you can get your name on your braces but you could always ask! :)

      Good luck,
      ~Lindy

  12. hi i got my braces tightened today and on one of my brackets i have a band in a figure of eight. what does this do different to the other normal round bands??

  13. I’m getting braces because too f my teeth are growing toads each other and if don’t do something then some of my teeth would mess up but they said that they may pull a tooth but I don’t want them to so I’m worried

  14. hi,
    i went to my orthodontist yesterday and i came home and the rubber band on one of the brackets is starting to come off ! its only on one side and my denist isnt in for a few days, wht do i do ?

  15. Hi, I just went to the Ortho yesterday and I got my bands on! Today I noticed that nearer to the back, my band has fallen off, my next appointment is in a month! What should I do?

  16. Hi I just got braces yesturday but I noticed that on some teeth the band only covers half the bracket is this normal

  17. I got braces 3 days ago, and at the back of my mouth I have noticed that the colour band on my braces has come off and the wire has come out of place. Also my next appointment is in 2months, does the colour band falling out effect my teeth? what should I do!! :(

  18. Hi..Iv got central diastema on my upper teeth and its been around 3 weeks and iv noticed is that one of the elastic ligature is missing from one of my front teeth..my appointment is pending till next week..is it somthing to worry about or can i wait till the next week??please help!!!

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