We all wish we had perfect teeth; no one wants to need orthodontia. Fortunately, braces have improved since ancient Greeks and Romans first used them.
Today, many people choose clear aligners like Invisalign because they aren’t as obvious as metal brackets, and users can remove them for eating or brushing their teeth.
Sometimes, however, basic braces or aligners aren’t enough to perfect your smile. In this case, orthodontists often recommend modifications like rubber bands.
Has your orthodontist recommended rubber bands for your Invisalign aligners? Keep reading to learn more about what rubber bands are used for and how they work with Invisalign.
- What Do Orthodontic Rubber Bands Do?
- What to Know About Invisalign Rubber Bands
- How Do Rubber Bands Work With Invisalign?
- Are Invisalign Rubber Bands Visible?
- How Do I Know If I Need Rubber Bands With Invisalign?
- How Long Do I Need to Wear Rubber Bands With Invisalign?
- How Much Do I Need to Wear Rubber Bands with Invisalign?
- How Do I Take Care of My Rubber Bands?
- Do Invisalign Rubber Bands Hurt?
- What Should I Do If the Button Falls Off?
- How Much Do Invisalign Rubber Bands Cost?
What Do Orthodontic Rubber Bands Do?
Rubber bands, also called elastics, are used primarily for two reasons. The first is to provide extra force to your aligner for particularly difficult teeth. The second is to correct jaw misalignment.
Types of jaw misalignment include:
- Overbite: When the front teeth protrude over the bottom teeth
- Underbite: When the bottom teeth protrude out from under the upper teeth
- Crossbite: Similar to an underbite, but occurs when some of your upper teeth sit behind the lower teeth
- Open bite: When your front teeth and top teeth don’t meet
- Deep bite: When the front teeth sit in front of the bottom teeth
How Orthodontic Rubber Bands Work
Rubber bands stretch from the top row of teeth down to the bottom row, with one on each side of your mouth. They loop around buttons or hooks on specific teeth.
The placement of the hooks or buttons depends on what problem your orthodontist is addressing. Someone with an overbite will have a different configuration for their rubber bands than someone with an underbite. Your rubber bands may stretch straight up and down, or they may stretch across your teeth at an angle.
After your dentist places the hooks or buttons, they’ll provide you with the specific rubber bands needed based on what you’re trying to address. Orthodontic rubber bands are available in different sizes, force amounts, and uses.
What to Know About Invisalign Rubber Bands
While Invisalign looks and works differently than traditional metal braces, the rubber bands work the same. They’re used to fix jaw misalignment and bite issues as well as apply more force to stubborn teeth.
How Do Rubber Bands Work With Invisalign?
When you have traditional metal braces, your orthodontist uses a special bracket with a hook on the teeth that the rubber bands attach to. To use rubber bands with Invisalign aligners, you will either get aligners with hooks or your dentist will attach small temporary buttons to your teeth. Invisalign calls these their SmartForce attachments.
Are Invisalign Rubber Bands Visible?
For many Invisalign users, they chose Invisalign because the clear aligners are far less obvious than metal braces. Unfortunately, using rubber bands with Invisalign will make the aligners a little more visible.
How visible will depend on a few factors. The first is where in your mouth the rubber bands are. If the rubber bands are farther back by your molars, they’ll be less visible than if your rubber bands are up front.
Another factor that will affect how obvious your rubber bands are is the color of the bands. Most of the time, these are clear, but you can get them in colors as well. If you want to keep your aligners inconspicuous, stick with the clear.
If your orthodontist is using a button attachment to hook the rubber bands, these may also be slightly more noticeable. While the material Invisalign uses for their SmartForce attachments is tooth-colored, they may be visible if your teeth are a different shade.
How Do I Know If I Need Rubber Bands With Invisalign?
Your orthodontist is the best person to tell you if you need rubber bands along with your aligners. Often, orthodontists prefer to align the jaw before straightening the teeth so that you might know early on.
However, Invisalign offers another option for jaw misalignment that your orthodontist may want to try first. Aligners with mandibular advancement have small, clear wings on the sides that help push your jaw into place. While not available for all misalignment, it’s an option worth discussing with your orthodontist.
How Long Do I Need to Wear Rubber Bands With Invisalign?
The length of time that rubber bands will be a part of your treatment will depend on your personal needs. Some people only need rubber bands for a month, while others need them for several months. Some may even need to use rubber bands for the duration of their treatment.
How Much Do I Need to Wear Rubber Bands with Invisalign?
Generally speaking, if rubber bands are part of your treatment, you should be wearing them whenever you’re wearing your aligner. You can remove them when you’re eating or brushing your teeth, but you should be wearing them at least twenty hours a day. This includes when you’re sleeping.
How Do I Take Care of My Rubber Bands?
Your orthodontist will give you a bag of rubber bands as needed. You should replace your rubber bands a minimum of every 24 hours, but it’s possible you may need to replace them more often. Talking, laughing, and yawning throughout the day can stretch the rubber bands out. If they don’t feel tight anymore, go ahead and switch them for new ones.
Avoid keeping your rubber bands in while eating or brushing your teeth. These actions can cause your rubber bands to stretch out much faster or even break.
If your rubber bands break, switch out both. If you’ve been wearing one side for half the day already and then put brand-new ones in on the other side, the pressure will be uneven and may cause pain.
Do Invisalign Rubber Bands Hurt?
If you’ve already been using an aligner or had braces, you probably know to expect some pain a day or two after an adjustment. This is the same for rubber bands. It may take some time to get used to them, and the teeth they are attached to may be sore at first.
The amount of discomfort you feel will depend on what issues the rubber bands are correcting and how tight the rubber bands are. Talk to your orthodontist to get an idea of what to expect. If the pain becomes unbearable or lasts longer than expected, give your orthodontist a call.
What Should I Do If the Button Falls Off?
Your orthodontist will apply the button or attachment with a bonding agent. Sometimes, these bonding agents weaken, causing your attachment to fall off. Even everyday tasks like eating and brushing your teeth can cause them to detach.
If the button or attachment comes off, stop wearing your rubber bands. As mentioned above, wearing only one rubber band when you’re supposed to be wearing two can cause pain and discomfort. Contact your orthodontist right away so they can get you in for a repair.
How Much Do Invisalign Rubber Bands Cost?
The cost of Invisalign rubber bands will likely be wrapped into the total cost of your treatment. Because the cost of Invisalign fluctuates wildly depending on the full scope of your treatment, you can only get a concrete price by speaking with your orthodontist’s office.
The good news is that many dental plans cover Invisalign. You can also pay for Invisalign with a flexible savings account (FSA), a health savings account (HSA), and by setting up a payment plan.
Using rubber bands with your Invisalign aligner will help improve your teeth and your bite. The length of time you wear the rubber bands, the position and tension of the rubber bands, the cost, and any discomfort you might feel will all depend on your individual treatment plan.
No one loves additional orthodontia, but adding rubber bands to your Invisalign aligner will be worth it for your beautiful smile at the end.
Dr. Sarah Clarkson is an accomplished and dedicated orthodontist with over 15 years of experience in the dental field. She specializes in corrective orthodontics for both children and adults, with a particular focus on early intervention in pediatric patients. Her exceptional skills in applying braces, aligners, and other dental devices have provided countless patients with the confidence to smile freely.
Dr. Clarkson completed her Doctor of Dental Surgery degree at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry, one of the top dental schools in the nation. Afterward, she pursued her orthodontic specialty at the same institution, where she was awarded the prestigious Dr. Robert Ricketts Sunflower Orthodontics Fellowship for her exemplary work.
Always passionate about patient education, Dr. Clarkson takes the time to explain every treatment thoroughly, ensuring her patients understand the process and benefits of their orthodontic care. She strongly believes in a holistic approach to oral health and emphasizes the importance of regular dental care and a healthy lifestyle.
With a commitment to staying on top of the latest advancements in orthodontics, Dr. Clarkson regularly participates in continuing education and professional development activities. She is an active member of the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) and the American Dental Association (ADA).
In her free time, Dr. Clarkson enjoys spending time with her family, playing tennis, and painting.