Braces Rubber Bands: What They Are and What They Do

Rubber bands are something that everyone with braces has to deal with, especially in the bite-fixing phase of their orthodontic treatment. As this is a long and difficult stage of the process, many may wonder: what do the braces rubber bands do exactly? What is their purpose? Why do we wear them, and can we ever take them off? This article will address these questions. Read on to get a better understanding of the purpose of the elastics for braces.

Types of Rubber Bands

There are two core categories of these orthodontic elastics: ligatures, and inter-arch elastics. The latter are also known as rubber bands for braces.

  • Ligatures are the small elastics that you put around every little bracket. They hold the archwire in place on the slot of the bracket. Usually they come in a variety of fun colors which children love. More subtle colors are available for adults. They help pull and push teeth in a given direction.
  • Inter-arch elastics are a bit larger, and they also come in an assortment of colors. They apply pressure to the jaw to correct its alignment opposed to the individual teeth. This helps to fix any sort of a poor bite, such as an overbite or underbite. They can be applied in many different ways. The most common is the inter-arch, meaning from the top to the bottom.

Inter-arch bands are connected to the brackets with hooks. They usually connect the top tooth bracket to the bottom tooth bracket. This helps change the position of the teeth in the mouth, as well as the position of the jaw. Thus, they ensure that the teeth line up correctly.

How and When to Wear the Braces Rubber Bands?

This section will help you to understand the importance of wearing your elastics.

When the rubber bands are placed in a patient’s mouth, the orthodontist will give clear instructions on how to wear them. Even though rubber bands will usually cause more discomfort, inconvenience, and even pain to their wearers, following the directions that are given will keep your treatment on schedule and deliver optimal results. This will help you avoid prolonging the treatment process.

Rubber Bands Must Be:

  • Worn almost all hours of the day;
  • Worn when sleeping;
  • Only taken out to eat, floss, and brush your teeth;
  • Not be doubled up. It will not save time as it might seem it could. Actually, it will only add unnecessary pressure, which in turn will slow down the movement of teeth, possibly causing damage.

Removing and Replacing the Braces Rubber Bands

When wearing braces rubber bands, it is recommended to take them off, discard them totally and replace them with brand new ones several times a day. Depending on the thickness and strength of the elastics, you may need to replace them up to 4 times a day. It is for this reason that you should keep a pack of rubber bands on you wherever you go.

We strongly advise you to change them at least once per day. This is important to do, even if they do not break, since they will lose their strength and elasticity over time.

The orthodontic office will provide you with complete instructions on how to remove and replace the bands. Instructions may vary between patients. You will be able to change the rubber bands for braces by yourself with just a little practice. Most patients will figure out how to change and remove them without professional help after a couple of days worth of practice. Keep in mind that soreness of the jaws, teeth and mouth is normal as you adjust to wearing elastics.

Why Use Rubber Bands with Braces?

Orthodontic rubber bands are in place to:

  • Help move the teeth into their rightful position;
  • Help align jaws that are afflicted with an overbite/underbite;

With both types of orthodontic bands, both those around the brackets and the inter-arch elastics, it is imperative that you keep them on 24 hours a day, except to change them. Not doing so will prolong the treatment process and make the discomfort last much longer than is necessary.

Changing them once a day is also recommended. Just by following the instructions given by your orthodontist, you will be well on your way to changing them yourself in no time.


It is very important to wear the dental rubber bands on braces to straighten your teeth and fix a poor bite. Remember that they come in a crucial stage of your orthodontic treatment. That is why you should carefully follow all the instructions of your orthodontist. You will have to replace them a few times a day, and only take them off when you eat, floss, or brush your teeth. You do not need to worry about the pain, as they are completely pain-free after a few days of consistent wearing. Please let us know what has your experience been with orthodontic rubber bands on braces? Share it with us in the “Comments” section.


  • I had always wondered why my friends with braces would wear rubber bands in their mouths on them. This gave such a great explanation! Thank you!

    • Hello, Anne!

      Thank you for your comment! We’re glad we could be of assistance.

      Have a great day!

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