Traditional metal braces straighten and move your teeth using a metal wire and brackets. Rubber bands are often attached to some of your brackets to increase the amount of force on certain parts of your mouth.
Invisalign is a more discreet alternative to traditional braces. It uses clear plastic aligner trays that fit over your teeth to reshape your smile. You’ll replace your aligner with a new one roughly every week or every other week.
In some cases, your orthodontist may recommend that you wear rubber bands with Invisalign. These elastics serve the same purpose as they do for traditional braces and help to apply force on specific parts of your mouth.
Keep reading to find out when your orthodontist may ask you to wear rubber bands with Invisalign braces and what types of conditions they may be used to treat.
The following devices help align your teeth but don’t change the way your upper and lower teeth meet each other:
- other clear aligners
- traditional braces
On the other hand, elastics in rubber bands apply force on your teeth in specific directions to correct bite conditions like overbite or underbite. The elastics will be arranged in different patterns depending on the specific type of bite condition you’re treating.
Invisalign rubber bands for overbite
The most common type of bite condition treated with Invisalign is “class II malocclusion,” otherwise known as an overbite or overjet.
An overbite occurs when the last molars of your bottom jaw are farther back in your mouth than the last molars of your upper jaw. This misalignment causes your upper jaw to project forward.
A 2017 study found that Invisalign was effective at improving overbites in a group of 120 adults who were 33 years old on average.
Invisalign can treat an overbite using elastics attached from your upper canines down to your lower molars. Your canines are the three pointed teeth found to the left and right of the center of your mouth.
Invisalign rubber bands for underbite
An underbite is when the first molar on the bottom of your jaw shifts forward compared to the first molar on your top jaw.
A 2016 case report showed successful treatment of mild overbite with Invisalign.
Invisalign can treat an underbite using rubber bands that hook from your top back molar to your lower canines.
Invisalign rubber bands for anterior open bites
An anterior open bite is when your front upper and lower teeth slant outwardly and don’t touch when you close your mouth. To treat this type of bite with Invisalign, you may use elastics that connect your top and bottom front teeth.
A small 2017 research review showed that Invisalign can potentially be effective for treating mild open bites in adults.
Invisalign rubber bands for preserving bite
Once you obtain your ideal bite, you may use vertical elastics. These rubber bands attach to the same tooth at the top and bottom of your mouth to help you preserve the position of your teeth.
Not everybody who gets Invisalign will need elastics. If the condition you’re treating is relatively minor, like mildly overcrowded teeth or small gaps between your teeth, you may not need elastics.
You’re most likely to need elastics if you have misalignments of your top and bottom teeth, like an overbite or underbite.
Many people opt to get Invisalign braces because they’re more discreet than traditional braces. Adding elastics and Invisalign buttons may make them more noticeable, but it depends on what area of your mouth you’ll need them.
Buttons are small areas of bonding material attached to your teeth that help attach elastic bands, according to “PORTH Personalized Orthodontics”. Generally, they’re the same color as your teeth and not that noticeable, especially if they’re in the back of your mouth.
Elastic bands are usually more noticeable than the buttons. If you need the elastics near the front of your mouth, they’ll be more visible than if they’re in the back of your mouth. Clear elastics will be less noticeable than other colors.
If you’re concerned that your Invisalign might be noticeable, it’s a good idea to talk with your orthodontist ahead of time to get an idea of what to expect.
Learning how to put on your elastics correctly can be tricky in the beginning. But as you become more experienced, it should get easier.
Your orthodontist may give you specific instructions, but here are two ways you can put on your rubber bands.
- Take your Invisalign aligners out of your mouth and line up the top and bottom tray in your hand.
- Look for the hooks on your top and bottom aligner where your elastics should go. Connect your elastics to each hook.
- Hold the aligners together like a sandwich. Put the aligners in your mouth while keeping tension in the elastics.
If you’re using buttons to attach your elastics, you may need to use this method.
- Take your bottom aligner out of your mouth.
- Hook your elastics on the proper hooks. Using your fingers, keep tension in the elastics as you refasten the aligner in your mouth.
- Grab one of your elastics and guide it toward the button on your top tooth. Once you snap it into place, repeat on the other side.
Your hooks may fall off when you’re chewing food or brushing your teeth. Sometimes they might fall off just because the bonding agent attaching it to a tooth is too weak.
If a button falls off, you shouldn’t try to reattach it yourself. You should keep the button somewhere safe and bring it to your orthodontist. The sooner you can see them, the better. Waiting could delay treatment.
Your elastics will lose their elasticity over time, so it’s important to change them regularly. Your orthodontist may recommend changing them two to four times per day.
If you’re out of the house and don’t have fresh elastics, it’s better to wear your old ones than to wear nothing.
Even though you’ll replace your Invisalign trays regularly, it’s important to keep them clean. Here are some ways you can clean your Invisalign aligners and look after your oral health.
- Rinse your aligners with water each night.
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and gentle liquid soap to clear away any food particles stuck to your trays.
- Store your aligners in their protective case when you’re not using them.
- Avoid harsh cleaners on your trays, like denture cleaner, mouthwash, scented soap, or toothpaste.
- Take out your aligners and elastics when eating.
- Try not to drink anything but water when your aligners are in.
- Avoid cleaning your trays with hot water.
- Continue to brush and floss your teeth regularly, but be careful of any buttons in your mouth. Using a soft toothbrush can help you avoid accidental damage.
Your orthodontist may want you to wear rubber bands with your Invisalign. Like with traditional braces, these elastics align your top and bottom teeth and treat conditions like an overbite or underbite.
It’s important to follow your orthodontist’s advice when it comes to wearing your elastics. If you don’t follow their instructions, you may not get the results you want, or your treatment may take longer.